May 26, 1998
India's nuclear tests earlier this month set off rising tensions with that nation's historic rival, Pakistan. Now, with the two nations engaging in border skirmishes in the disputed Kashmir region, Pakistan is contemplating possible nuclear tests of its own. After this background report, Margaret Warner leads a discussion of Pakistan's nuclear dilemma.
JIM LEHRER: The pressures on Pakistan to conduct its own nuclear tests and to Margaret Warner.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
May 26, 1998
A discussion of the tensions between Pakistan and India.
May 14, 1998
Jim Lehrer asks a Pakistani government official if a nuclear arms race is on the way between his country and India.
May 13, 1998
India conducts a second round of nuclear tests.
May 12, 1998
A discussion on India's decision to test nuclear weapons.
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March 19, 1998:
A discussion on how to reduce nuclear proliferation.
March 4, 1998
The BJP wins elections in India.
January 6, 1998
President Clinton announces a new strategy to deter nuclear war.
December 4, 1997
Two retired generals call for an immediate reduction of nuclear arms.
August 17, 1997
Pakistan turns 50.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of the military and Asia.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Organization .
MARGARET WARNER: There have been celebrations across India ever since the country detonated five nuclear explosions earlier this month. But the underground blasts--India's first nuclear tests since 1974-were fiercely denounced by Pakistan, India's neighbor and archenemy.
AYUB KHAN, Foreign Minister, Pakistan: The leadership, as I say, seems to have gone berserk in India. And it is drawing Pakistan and has drawn Pakistan into a headlong arms race.
Poised to join the nuclear family.
MARGARET WARNER: Pakistan has never formally admitted having nuclear weapons. But, along with India and Israel, it has refused to sign the 1968 nuclear nonproliferation treaty. As a "non-signer," Pakistan has no obligation to open its nuclear facilities for international inspection. Still, the world has long suspected that Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons. Since 1990, the U.S. Congress has embargoed sales of high tech combat aircraft to Pakistan, because the president could not certify that Pakistan did not have a nuclear device. Now, in the wake of India's nuclear tests, the Pakistani government is threatening to respond in kind.
GOHAR AYUB KHAN, Pakistan Foreign Minister: On this issue Pakistan is one. There is no one voice against it. And such threats will be matched.
MARGARET WARNER: Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a leader of the opposition party, is saying Pakistan must act.
BENAZIR BHUTTO: I believe it is very likely that within the next 30 days, Pakistan will respond with a detonation itself. However, I have said that since India has forced Pakistan's hand, Pakistan must also signal to the world community that it is not a rogue state.
A long-simmering dispute with India.
MARGARET WARNER: Pakistan was formed in 1947 to create a separate homeland for millions of India's Muslims. Since then, the two countries have gone to war three times. In 1990, they came close to a fourth armed conflict over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Reflecting this tension, South Asia is one of the world's more heavily and lethally armed regions. Even now, both Pakistan and India continue to buy and develop aircraft and missiles capable of attacking deep into the other's territory. After the Indian tests, President Clinton imposed U.S. sanctions against India.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: The nuclear tests conducted by India against the backdrop of 149 nations signing the nuclear nonproliferation treaty demand an unambiguous response by the United States. It is important that we make clear our categorical opposition.
Heavy pressure from the U.S. to refrain from nuclear tests.
MARGARET WARNER: The Clinton administration has threatened that additional sanctions will be imposed on Pakistan if it conducts nuclear tests too. Ten days ago, the administration dispatched two officials to the Pakistan capital of Islamabad to urge Pakistan not to take that step.
STROBE TALBOTT, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State: We came to consult with a very good friend. It's particularly important that good friends like the United States and Pakistan stay in the closest possible touch and understand each other's views at difficult times. This is a difficult time, we've had a good meeting, and we're looking forward to more good meetings. And that's it. Thank you very much.
MARGARET WARNER: The U.S. call for international sanctions against India received support from Japan and Canada, but there was little enthusiasm elsewhere--as was evident at the recent G-8 summit of industrialized nations in Britain. Some Pakistani officials said the weak response showed Pakistan could not count on the western world for its security if it refrained from matching India's nuclear tests.
ZAMIR AKRAM, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Pakistan: I know that there will be sanctions if we test, and I know that these sanctions are going to cause economic hardships on Pakistan. But from a country that has already been under sanctions for several years these are not very grave consequences when compared to the kind of consequences we would face if we do not take the necessary measures for our national security.
MARGARET WARNER: The Clinton administration and some members of Congress are discussing a possible package of U.S. economic and military security assistance for Pakistan, hoping to persuade it not to follow India's path. A delegation of Pakistani officials is expected to arrive in Washington tonight.