24 September 1998
(Albright: more steps needed before sanctions can be lifted) (840) By Judy Aita USIA United Nations Correspondent United Nations -- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright praised Pakistan and India for stating that they intend to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) within the year, but said that "more steps need to be taken" before the U.S. can lift sanctions imposed after the two conducted nuclear tests earlier this year. Albright said September 24 that both countries have taken some positive steps to end the nuclear arms race in the region "but there is a long way to go" before sanctions can be lifted. The secretary also said that no decision has been made whether President Clinton will visit the region on a trip that was put on hold after the nuclear tests. "We have to look at how this all progresses," Albright said. "I don't want to overstate what has happened here. They are important steps but ... there are many steps that still need to be taken. We are not prepared to make a judgment" on sanctions or the president's trip. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told the UN General Assembly September 23 that Islamabad "will adhere to the CTBT" before the next states parties conference in September 1999, but added that he expected sanctions and other economic restriction imposed after the nuclear tests would be removed. On September 24, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said that India was prepared to bring CTBT "discussions to a successful conclusion" and sign the treaty. Albright said the United States interpreted the remarks as the two countries are "moving towards adherence to the CTBT." She also noted that the two "removed their obstacles to the fissile material cut-off treaty negotiations in Geneva and they have promised to strengthen controls on the export of nuclear material and technology" and agreed to pursue talks on Kashmir. "We consider that very important," Albright said. "Obviously much remains to be done: actually signing and ratifying the CTBT, finding a formula for a moratorium on producing fissile material while negotiations are under way, structuring a restraint regime on nuclear weapons and their means of delivery to demonstrate their intent to avoid a nuclear arms race, and actually strengthening their export control regime," she said. "So there has been some progress, but obviously more steps need to be taken," the secretary said. A senior Administration official said a decision on Clinton's trip may be made as early as the first week in October. The official also said the U.S. Congress is watching developments "very closely and they will be ready to respond at the appropriate time" on sanctions. Congress has not given President Clinton the authority to waive the sanctions although a bill is pending. "The Administration strongly supports the Congress providing the president with waiver authority for the sanctions as contained in the Brownback-Robb amendment," the official said. "If they provide that authority then we will make a determination whether or not and when that waiver authority can be used." The official said that the United States interprets the statements made by the foreign ministers as "both are moving toward adherence" to the CTBT. "That is very clear. Both have initiated serious debates in Delhi and Islamabad with their parliaments, with their publics about the wisdom of moving forward with adherence to the treaty," the official said. "Compare this to a year ago where India was adamantly opposed to CTBT because of its discriminatory aspects and Pakistan was saying they would not sign until India did, these things have changed," the official pointed out. "Pakistan has dropped as a condition India's signing the treaty ... both countries -- in light of the nuclear tests they made -- are looking at CTBT in the context of their national security requirements and whether or not these tests will allow them to move forward with adherence ... this is a positive sign," the official said. "These are good statements, but obviously we want to see concrete actions taken by those countries ... further movement on material, on a restraint regime, further movement on export controls," the official said. "Both countries have very good records on the question of the export of sensitive nuclear and missile technology. We want to see them formalize those, make them more stringent," the official said. "It may be more time may be required to work through these important issues with both countries and if more time is required we would want to take it," the official said. "These are fundamentally important issues for both countries. National security is involved and we want to make sure we get these right," the senior official said. The official also noted that "by all reports -- both public and private -- the two ministers established some rapport (during their meeting in New York) and that, we think, ... is what is necessary to begin moving the two countries to resolve all of their differences, including Kashmir."