Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 104

As it had during a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Luxembourg on May 28 (see the Monitor, May 29), Russia joined with other world powers over the weekend in condemning Pakistan’s recent nuclear tests and in seeking to forge an international consensus over how best to forestall a nuclear arms race in South Asia. With that latter goal in mind, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council–which include Russia–have agreed to meet later this week to discuss the recent developments in India and Pakistan. In addition, members of the Group of Eight, of which Russia recently became a full member, have also decided to convene for the same reason. The G-8 countries will meet in London on June 12. The decisions to convene the two meetings followed an additional underground nuclear test conducted by Pakistan on May 30. The UN Security Council rebuked Pakistan’s action, which came only hours after the council’s condemnation of Islamabad’s original nuclear tests on May 25.

The upcoming Security Council and G-8 meetings seem unlikely to produce an easy consensus, however. Japan, which is Islamabad’s largest aid donor and trading partner, has joined the United States in taking a strong stand against the actions by Pakistan and India. Both Japan and the United States have enacted economic sanctions against India and Pakistan. Japan has recalled its ambassadors from both countries. Tokyo also called an emergency session of the fifteen-member UN Security Council on May 30 in order to present a resolution that it had drafted addressing the South Asian crisis. (International agencies, May 29-31)

But Russia, joined by China and most West European countries, have refused to back sanctions against either New Delhi or Islamabad. Addressing the subject during a visit to a visit to Finland on May 30, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov reiterated and elaborated on the Russian position. He said that Moscow remains opposed to sanctions for three reasons. First, because they would have an adverse impact on the general populations of the two countries. Second, because they would also be painful for trading partners of Pakistan and India. Third, because sanctions serve to isolate the leaders of the countries affected. Primakov said that Moscow would look to work with other countries in convincing both India and Pakistan to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. (Itar-Tass, May 30) India is a major trading partner of Russia and is a particularly important buyer of Russian military hardware.