News

7 September 1999


Press Release
DCF/381



CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HOLDS FINAL MEETING OF 1999 SESSION

19990907

Speakers Decry Lack of Progress; Pakistan and India Continue Debate Draft Nuclear Doctrine

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 7 September (UN Information Service) -- The Conference on Disarmament concluded its 1999 session today, adopting its annual report to be submitted to the General Assembly and hearing a series of closing statements from national delegations decrying a persisting stalemate which left the Conference unable to agree on a programme of work.

Representatives of Pakistan and India also exchanged remarks, as on 19 August, over the meaning and implications of a draft nuclear weapons doctrine released by India. Pakistan charged that the Indian document threatened a major nuclear and conventional weapons build-up in the region, while India stated that the draft doctrine was indeed a "draft" that was to be discussed by the Government and the Indian public and that India would maintain its nuclear capability only in a defensive and deterrent role.

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MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said Pakistan would support endeavours to reach a balanced programme of work for the Conference next year. Pakistan did not think the statements made so far today had fully and objectively reflected the realities confronting the Conference and its members this year. There were common elements with which all could have worked to achieve a programme of work. Further efforts were needed to achieve consensus on two matters -- nuclear disarmament and prevention of an arms race in outer space. But a few countries, a very small minority, were unable to make the compromises necessary to satisfy the great majority of members.

It was necessary for the Conference to give nuclear disarmament the highest priority for its work. The nuclear arms States must also recognize that a potential arms race in outer space was an important issue needing concerted attention. It was not enough for the Conference just to focus on non-proliferation issues. The explanations given by other speakers had been partial explanations, Mr. Akram said. There had been a number of factors this year that had affected the work of the Conference that they had not mentioned.

In his statement of 19 August, Pakistan had outlined its concerns regarding the nuclear doctrine released by India on 17 August. This morning the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan had delivered a statement in Islamabad on the regional and global implications of India's nuclear doctrine. The text of the Foreign Secretary's statement had been circulated to the Conference. It examined developments since nuclear tests carried out last year and outlined Pakistan's proposals for strategic restraint in South Asia on nuclear-weapons matters. The nuclear doctrine announced by India was a prescription for a massive arms build-up -- nuclear and conventional -- in the region. It constituted a serious obstacle to prospects for nuclear and missile restraint in South Asia.

A lot had been said about a fissile-materials cut-off treaty, yet India's intention to manufacture 400 or more nuclear warheads would require a large quantity of fissile material. Under those circumstances, neither India nor Pakistan could accept a moratorium on manufacture or acquisition of fissile material, the Pakistani Foreign Secretary had noted in his address.

Pakistan had suggested 10 steps to India that, if carried out, would defuse the situation, Mr. Akram said. These steps included assurances that nuclear weapons would not be deployed and that India would agree not to acquire or possess the large quantities of fissile materials needed for such weapons; a balance also would need to be struck between the current unequal quantities of fissile materials possessed by India and Pakistan. Negotiations with Pakistan to elaborate a strategic restraint regime were also called for among the 10 steps.

If a change in this trend set by India did not occur, Pakistan would be forced to take the steps necessary in response, Mr. Akram said, and unfortunately that would greatly reduce the chance of avoiding an arms race in the region. Pakistan called on the international community to condemn India's nuclear doctrine and to halt any sales of nuclear arms or components to India. Even at this late stage, Pakistan was committed to pursuing contacts and consultations within the international community to defuse the mounting threat posed to peace and security by India's nuclear strategy.

CLIVE PEARSON (New Zealand) said the New Agenda coalition had apparently been alleged to be inconsistent in its approach to negotiations on an FMCT. That claim, apparently made by France, was absolutely not true. But New Zealand was able, meanwhile, to draw a distinction between a need to "score points" in the annual report of the Conference, and the need to give an accurate account in the report of the Conference's activities.

SAVITRI KUNADI (India) said certain remarks made by Pakistan required a response. As she had mentioned during her speech on 19 August, Pakistan's comments were ill-informed. Further, the Conference was not the forum for discussion of such issues. In any case the facts had once again to be set out clearly. The document "Indian Nuclear Doctrine" was one input for consideration by the Government. It was a draft and had been released to the public in order to encourage wide discussion of the matter. India believed that as a responsible nuclear- weapons State, it should have a transparent and clear nuclear doctrine. Moreover, it was a democracy, and issues of national security had to be based on popular support.

The Ambassador said she wished to reiterate India's position that nuclear weapons posed a grave threat to international security, and that it was important for nuclear-weapons States to confine the role of such weapons to defence and to deterrence of potential attacks by other nuclear-weapon States. India declared that it would not use such weapons in a first-strike approach but only in response to an attack by another nuclear-weapon State. Its approach to such weapons was defensive. Pakistan's response to the Indian draft nuclear doctrine was misguided. Pakistan was not building on the Lahore process but had eroded the spirit of compromise and progress of the process because of its aggressions carried out against India this year. The statement by the delegation of Pakistan rang hollow.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said he had listened carefully to the statement of the Ambassador of India, because he had hoped to hear from her a positive response to the proposals made by the Pakistani Foreign Secretary in an effort to arrest an arms race in South Asia. While India had said its doctrine was a matter for debate, the report was the final report of the National Security Advisor of India, and had been officially released by the Government. Pakistan could not but conclude that the report carried the official support and weight of the Government of India. If that was not the case, India should say clearly in public that the Government of India disallowed the recommendations in the report. That would certainly constitute a confidence-building measure. The international community should take note of the doctrine of India, should call on India not to implement it, and should halt any sales of relevant arms to India.

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