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U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Pakistan

May 28, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Clinton administration rushed to impose sanctions on Pakistan for testing nuclear weapons Thursday as President Clinton surveyed the damage to his arms control efforts amid rising nuclear tension in one of the world’s most populous regions.

Hours after Pakistan announced that it had conducted five underground nuclear tests in response to India’s five tests two weeks ago, Clinton said at the White House that Pakistan, like India before it, will face economic sanctions.

``Two wrongs don’t make a right,″ he said.

The sanctions order was imminent, said spokesman Mike McCurry.

With the administration having failed to persuade the two longtime enemies to refrain from testing, U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson said, ``We’re going to be consulting in the days ahead on the appropriate response.″ But the United States so far has failed to generate much European support for punishing India and Pakistan.

Clinton acknowledged that without ``determined efforts″ a new arms race in Asia now appears possible, a defeat for U.S. foreign policy.

``I cannot believe we are about to start the 21st century by having the Indian subcontinent repeat the worst mistakes of the 20th century when we know it is not necessary to peace, to security, to prosperity, to national greatness or personal fulfillment,″ Clinton said.

The nuclear tension in the region also threatens a cherished administration goal, ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a pact that cannot take effect if India and Pakistan continue their refusal to sign. And outside observers said the flurry of tests could lead Iran and Iraq to press ahead with their nuclear programs.

``Our nonproliferation policies are in tatters,″ said Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., chairman of the House International Relations subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. ``We now need to re-engage more effectively with both Pakistan and India to assist in defusing a very intense situation.″

U.S. intelligence, harshly criticized for failing to warn of India’s tests, was monitoring the ongoing border clashes between India and Pakistan in the disputed Kashmir region, focus of three wars between the two countries since 1947. U.S. spy satellites were also watching for signs that the two countries may conduct more nuclear tests.

At the Pentagon, spokesman Kenneth Bacon said, ``We do not see any evidence that they are moving toward a nuclear exchange.″

The CIA was unable to confirm that Pakistan actually touched off five nuclear devices because some may have gone off simultaneously. The agency told policy-makers that Pakistan might have claimed five tests simply to match India’s number. The weapons appear to have been nuclear fission weapons, not the more powerful thermonuclear devices or ``boosted″ weapons that India claims to have tested.

Intelligence reports to the White House did confirm Pakistani claims that it could mount a nuclear warhead atop a medium-range Ghauri missile, which has a range of 900 miles and can reach most of India.

India is not as far along in developing a weapon that can be placed atop a missile, according to one U.S. official.

But if that hurdle can be surmounted, India has tested the Agni missile, which has a range of up to 1,500 miles. India can also deliver nuclear weapons from Jaguar and MiG-27 fighter jets, according to the Federation of American Scientists, an intelligence watchdog group. Pakistan has A-5, Mirage and F-16 fighters that could be used to deliver a nuclear weapon.

Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., ranking member of the House International Relations Committee, cautioned against overreaction.

``The situation is grave but it is not the end of the world. Armageddon is not here,″ Hamilton said.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who opposes ratification of the test ban treaty, said the Indian and Pakistani tests show ``that these kinds of treaties have no impact whatsoever. ... Does anybody believe that such a treaty would prevent Iran from moving forward?″

Paul L. Leventhal, president of the nongovernment Nuclear Control Institute, urged the administration to send the two countries uncensored films of the devastation caused by U.S. nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. And he accused the Clinton administration of ``a colossal foreign policy failure.″

The nuclear tests appear to have energized a U.S. arms control community that has been somnolent in recent years. The group Peace Action staged an ``Arms Race″ on Washington’s Embassy Row Thursday afternoon as demonstrators dressed up as nuclear weapons and ran between the Indian and Pakistani embassies.

Daryl Kimble of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers said the tests may intensify Senate interest in ratifying the test ban treaty. Still he conceded, ``This is a severe blow to efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.″

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