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India Says Pakistan Not a Threat

May 29, 1998

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ India said today it neither threatened nor feared Pakistan, its neighbor and rival that responded to India’s five nuclear tests with five tests of its own.

Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes today played down Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities, claiming the strength of Pakistan’s largest explosion was 10 kilotons, while India’s was 45 kilotons.

International monitors, however, estimated India’s explosion at 10 kilotons. The bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in August 1945 was 20 kilotons.

Pakistan, which exploded its devices on Thursday, has blamed India for escalating the regional arms race by conducting five such tests two weeks ago. India claims it needs a nuclear deterrence against China’s declared nuclear arsenal and Pakistan’s once-secret nuclear program.

``It is ... unfortunate that Pakistan has chosen to declare the tests `India-specific,″ Fernandes told Parliament today.

Earlier, in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp., Fernandes refused to say whether India would arm its missiles with nuclear bombs, as Pakistan has said it will do.

``We will do whatever is necessary to safeguard our national security and defeat any evil intentions that anyone has on us,″ he said.

Independent researchers estimate Pakistan has enough stockpiled weapons-grade uranium for 25 nuclear bombs, while India has enough weapons-grade plutonium for 78.

For Pakistan ``to seek parity with India in fields other than, maybe, cricket or hockey, is to pursue a pipe dream,″ The Pioneer said today in an editorial that reflected the tone of many other Indian newspapers.

Pakistan followed up its tests with a state of emergency declaration, citing threats of ``external aggression.″ Pakistan has accused its giant neighbor, with whom it has fought three wars over the last 50 years, of threatening to attack its nuclear installations.

``Out of the question,″ said K.C. Singh, a spokesman for the Indian Foreign Ministry in New Delhi. ``Our prime minister has said again and again over the last two days that these reports are ridiculous.″

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