Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 103

Russia joined with NATO members yesterday in condemning the five nuclear tests Pakistan undertook earlier in the day. The consensus appeared in a statement issued as foreign ministers from Russia and the NATO countries met in Luxembourg. It expressed deep concern and dismay over the “developing regional nuclear arms race” between Pakistan and India. Pakistan’s tests were a response to those–also five in number–carried out by India earlier this month. As was the case following India’s nuclear tests, however, Russia and Europe were in no hurry to join the United States in announcing sanctions against Pakistan. On that occasion, Russia made clear that it would not take any such punitive actions against India.

In remarks to the press yesterday, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said that the Pakistani tests did not signal a failure of international nonproliferation policy. He described them instead as a “new phenomenon” that would make arms control efforts considerably more complex. “The five existing [nuclear powers] have learned how to behave and show restraint, and there is no threat, or only a minimal threat from these weapons,” Primakov said. “But we cannot say the same about the new nuclear states that are in conflict or that have border disputes.” (Reuter, May 28)

Reactions in Moscow to Pakistan’s actions yesterday mirrored those in Luxembourg. A Foreign Ministry statement expressed “the deepest concern” in connection with the nuclear tests, and asserted that “the years-long rivalry between India and Pakistan is today assuming quite a new form which is extremely dangerous to all humanity.” A Russian deputy foreign minister told reporters, however, that Moscow is not considering sanctions against Pakistan. He said that it was necessary instead to work on both a bilateral and a multilateral basis to deter Pakistan and India from taking additional steps that might exacerbate tensions between them. He said that the two countries must also be convinced to adhere to international treaties banning the testing and proliferation of nuclear weapons. (Russian agencies, May 28)