OPPOSE ANY EFFORT TO REPEAL THE PRESSLER AMENDMENT (House of Representatives - May 19, 1998)

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 21, 1997, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) is recognized during morning hour debates for 5 minutes.

Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, as you know, last week, the Republic of India conducted five underground nuclear tests. The Clinton administration imposed sanctions after the second set of tests and I believe was correct in doing so. These sanctions are extremely severe and may affect as much as $20 billion in funds to India.

Mr. Speaker, I am also concerned now that U.S. policy proceed toward an increased dialogue with India. We have made tremendous strides in improving relations between our two countries in recent years, and we must not go back to a Cold War strategy.

Unfortunately, there are Members of this body who feel that there is a need to impose further trade and economic sanctions. There may be an attempt to attach an amendment to the House defense authorization bill that would remove Most Favored Nation's status to India on textile and apparel products.

[TIME: 1115]

Mr. Speaker, imposing further economic sanctions on India is meritless and counterproductive to current relations. It would only hurt the workers in India who make the textiles. This amendment to the defense authorization bill would derail U.S.-India relations at times when dialogue between the two democracies is paramount.

I was pleased to read that, at the G-8 summit in England, President Clinton stated that, although sanctions were necessary, he did not want to isolate India.

Mr. Speaker, India cited the threat from China and Pakistan as major reasons for conducting the nuclear tests. For years, Pakistan and China have cooperated in nuclear and missile development. A recent Congressional Research Service Center study showed that the Chinese government had transferred missile technology and nuclear equipment and materials to Iran and Pakistan numerous times. All of these transfers were clearly in violation of international and U.S. law, but they were not met with economic sanctions by the administration.

Mr. Speaker, China is a nuclear-armed dictatorship that had a border war in 1964 against India. Much to India's concern, China continues to maintain a nuclear presence in occupied Tibet and a large military force in Burma. It is unfortunate that the administration and Members of this body continue to overlook these facts.

India's nuclear tests must be understood in the context of the huge threat posed by China. The United States should be taking the military and nuclear threat from China's dictatorship more seriously.

Mr. Speaker, It is important that the United States continue dialogue with the Indian government at this time. We must urge the Indian government to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty immediately, without conditions. By signing the treaty, India could assume leadership on international negotiations on capping the accumulation of weapons-grade fissile terms.

It is also important that we not encourage an arms buildup in south Asia. I would urge Members of this body to oppose any effort to repeal the Pressler amendment. Repeal of the Pressler amendment would allow for the delivery of 26 F-16 jet fighters to Pakistan.

U.S. national security adviser Sandy Berger confirmed that the delivery of fighter jets was one of the proposals made to the Pakistan government recently to prevent them from conducting their own nuclear tests, and this is very bad policy. The repeal of the Pressler amendment and the delivery of the F-16 fighters would only increase tension within the region. The U.S. cannot help bring peace to south Asia if it continues to fuel an arms race in that region.

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, I strongly urge President Clinton to continue with his plans to visit India later this year. It has been over 20 years since an American President has visited India. The President has not said he would cancel the trip, but I suppose there is some doubt about that. The President's trip would accelerate negotiations and dialogue on nuclear nonproliferation. Furthermore, it would show to the Indian people that the United States wishes to maintain a long-term relationship with India.

Mr. Speaker, now is the time to continue our dialogue with India and try to get India involved in signing the test ban treaty and trying to promote peace in south Asia. Let us move forward. Let us proceed with a dialogue. Let us not move backwards with our relations with India. We have come a long way, and this is the time now to show there can be restraint on both sides.

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