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India, Pak not to be named at CTBT meeting

By R Senthilnathan



October 8,1999 19:40 Hrs (IST)
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Vienna: Countries gathered here for an international meeting have decided not to name India and Pakistan for not signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) three years after it was adopted by the UN.

According to diplomatic sources, the political declaration that is to be released late on Friday, at the end of the three-day meeting, will name neither the countries that have not signed the treaty -- India, Pakistan and North Korea -- nor those which have signed but not ratified the accord -- China, Russia and the United States.

All six are among the group of 44 nations whose ratification is needed for the treaty to enter into force. The 44 countries were selected for possessing nuclear facilities and for their membership in the Geneva-based U.N. Conference on Disarmament where the treaty was discussed before being passed on to the U.N. General Assembly for adoption three years ago.

The Vienna meeting has been called by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan under a treaty clause which demands such a diplomatic conference if the CTBT does not enter into force within three years of its adoption.

Officials at the CTBT Organisation (CTBTO), which will oversee the treaty implementation, said more than 400 delegates from 86 countries are attending the meeting. India is not attending while Pakistan is.

The political declaration is still in its drafting stages and no copies have been released to the media, but diplomats say that though the non-signatories and non-ratifiers have been spared a diplomatic setback by not being named, they will not come out clean in the declaration either.

At one point, according to the diplomatic sources, the draft calls upon the "two countries" to keep their promise of signing the treaty as soon as possible. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif had made that promise while attending the U.N. General Assembly session last year.

"The countries (attending the meeting) have decided that this meeting should 'invite' them (the non-signatories) to join the treaty rather than using direct, aggressive pressure," said Rebecca Johnson, executive director of Britain-based Acronym Institute. The institute is a key non-governmental organisation (NGO) involved in the international disarmament movement and had participated in the CTBT negotiations in Geneva.

According to Johnson, the delegates seemed to have taken into consideration the "sensitivity" of the issue in both India and the United States. "India does not seem to be clear about its position while the USA situation is delicate as the treaty is being discussed by the Senate," she said.

Even though the declaration will not be naming the six countries, some nations addressing the meeting decided to do so. Among the prominent name-callers was Japan, which is presiding over the meeting. Masahiko Koumura, who until Monday was Japan's Foreign Minister, named India, Pakistan and North Korea and called upon them to sign the treaty.

He also asked the three nuclear weapons states -- China, Russia and the US -- to complete their accession process by ratifying the treaty. Koumura also called upon Israel to ratify the treaty.

India Abroad News Service


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