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India May Be Negotiating Test Ban

July 6, 1998

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ India is negotiating with the world’s declared nuclear powers to sign a nuclear test ban treaty, hoping in exchange to gain technology needed for power plants, a newspaper reported Monday.

A government spokesman denied the report in the Indian Express, calling it ``premature.″

``India’s basic position remains unaltered,″ Foreign Office spokesman K.C. Singh said.

India has in the past refused to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The government has called it discriminatory, saying it gives a technological edge to world powers who already have nuclear arsenals and thus don’t need to conduct further tests.

India conducted five controversial nuclear tests in May, an action that prompted its neighbor and rival, Pakistan, to conduct tests of its own. The United States imposed economic sanctions on both countries.

India has several nuclear power plants for which it would like to import technology. That technology also has weapons capability, however. India maintains that its nuclear power plants are used solely to generate electricity.

The Indian Express reported that the government was hoping for a breakthrough on the issue before President Clinton’s visit to India in November.

Before the test ban treaty can go into effect, 44 countries that have nuclear reactors for research or power have to approve it.

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