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U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

INDEX
FRIDAY, JANUARY 15, 1999
Briefer: JAMES P. RUBIN

INDIA/PAKISTAN
7Recent Violence
10-11Nuclear Proliferation Issues In Region


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB #8
FRIDAY, JANUARY 15, 1999, 1:00 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)


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QUESTION: Back to South Asia, you just mentioned twice US national security interests in South Asian nuclear proliferation. My question is, how does nuclear proliferation in India and Pakistan affect the US national security interests, other than possible leakage of nuclear weapons technology from these countries?

MR. RUBIN: Well, as you must know, the stability of the Indian Subcontinent is a matter of concern to, I think, most people in the world. We know very well that India and Pakistan have fought several wars in recent years, and the prospect of a war between India and Pakistan with both sides armed with long-range missiles and nuclear weapons is a horrifying prospect to anybody and does, because of the potential of that, affect the national security of the United States. I think we are harmed by even the prospect of a major war between India and Pakistan, one that could occur with them having these dangerous weapons. That's on the immediate tangible side. I think everyone would agree with that, I would hope.

Secondly, with respect to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the fact that an arms competition between India and Pakistan would intensify and lead to increased capabilities in the nuclear and missile area raises real concerns about that weaponry or capability or technology spreading to countries who have a much more direct pattern of acting in opposition to American interests. Those would be the two reasons.

QUESTION: A follow-up - what is the US doing and what can the US do to reduce tension between India and Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: Well, obviously, you know quite well that Deputy Secretary Talbott has spent a lot of time on that, and I'm sure that he and Assistant Secretary Inderfurth would be in a position to get into greater detail on that.

But we are aware of, and note with concern, several recent reports from the region in the press predicting possible tests of ballistic missiles by both India and Pakistan. We have urged both sides to exercise restraint and to avoid inflammatory actions that would heighten tensions and fuel a missile arms race. Many other nations have also urged both sides not to take such actions.

Missile tests would not be helpful to efforts to reduce tensions and build confidence through dialogue in South Asia, nor would they help the climate for our ongoing effort with both countries, through the good efforts of Deputy Secretary Talbott, to promote a reconciliation. We have raised, in the last day, with both India and Pakistan directly our concerns on this matter. Deputy Secretary Talbott will be visiting the region at the end of the month and will be raising this as well.

QUESTION: Have you gotten any reassurances from either capital?

MR. RUBIN: At this point, all I'm in a position to say is that we've raised the subject with them.

QUESTION: And just another follow-up - to what extent are you aware of the nature of the preparations? I mean, is this almost - is this imminent?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not in a position to speculate on our information about such matters with you. I can tell you that we are concerned about, and have been for some time, about the prospect of missile testing. We take note with concern of recent reports that there may be tests very soon. So we take this seriously. I'm not going to describe our expert information on the subject.

QUESTION: And at what level was this concern communicated in the last --

MR. RUBIN: To our embassies.

QUESTION: To the embassies?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Here, too?

MR. RUBIN: I believe it was through the embassies in Pakistan and India.

QUESTION: Jamie, could I go back for a moment to the removal of the holds on oil field equipment? Are those unilateral holds by the United States? In other words, if the decision is made to move them, then they're gone?

MR. RUBIN: It depends. I mean, some cases we may act in concert with other countries. In some cases, we may be the only ones. But one would be enough in the case of the way the system works. I can't give you an answer to each one of them, other than to say that we're going to act to reduce - we tend to be the most vigilant on this subject, so I suspect that our removing holds will make it much more likely that the equipment is sent.

QUESTION: Geneva, the summit convention starts, I believe, next Monday. So in this convention do you have any targets towards India and Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to get you some information about what our specific efforts would be in that regard.

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(The briefing concluded at 1:40 P.M.)

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