Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 108

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council (P-5), meeting yesterday in Geneva, managed to produce a statement urging India and Pakistan to step back from the brink of a nuclear arms race. Neither incentives nor sanctions aimed at moving the two countries toward that goal were mentioned, however. It also made no mention of possible penalties should India or Pakistan conduct additional nuclear tests.

Those shortcomings, and the general vagueness of the statement, reflected continuing differences among the permanent UN Security Council countries. Of the five, only the United States has leveled sanctions against India. Washington had made clear, prior to yesterday’s meeting, that it would not urge the other countries to follow a similar course. Russia has been an outspoken opponent of sanctions–a position shared by France, China and Great Britain. Russia, moreover, reportedly insisted on removing from the statement language dealing with Kashmir, the chief source of tensions between India and Pakistan. “The Russians wanted most of the wording on Kashmir out. They wanted to protect India,” a diplomat was reported as saying.

The communique adopted in Geneva did urge India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty–without any conditions. That is, it rejected calls for India and Pakistan to be admitted into the club of five established nuclear powers established in the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. P-5 members said they wanted to be sure that New Delhi and Islamabad reaped no “rewards” for their recent nuclear tests. The P-5 statement also expressed concern about the “danger to peace and stability in the region” because of the nuclear tests. It also urged Pakistan and India to “stop all further tests” and to “refrain from the weaponization or deployment of nuclear weapons, from the testing or deployment of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and from any further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.” (AP, Reuter, June 4)

Russia’s stand on the recent developments in South Asia is conditioned at least in part by its close ties to India. Russian officials suggested in the immediate aftermath of India’s underground nuclear tests that Moscow would move forward on possible cooperation with India in the field of nuclear energy, despite the action by New Delhi. (Itar-Tass, May 18) More recently, a representative of Russia’s Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer said that Moscow would meet all of its commitments under a deal to supply India with forty Su-30 fighter planes. That deal, estimated to be worth more than US$1.5 billion, was concluded by Russia and India in November of 1996. (Russian agencies, June 2)