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Assurance From India

September 11, 1986

The letter from Salim Gul, the counselor (press) in the Pakistan Embassy, in your esteemed columns (Aug. 26) in response to Roger Molander's article (Editorial Pages, Aug. 6) is aimed at shifting the burden of explaining Pakistan's nuclear program by confusing issues and directing attention to India.

Your readers should know that the nuclear issue in South Asia is not a bilateral one between India and Pakistan. India already has a nuclear weapons state as an immediate neighbor to the north; a nuclear weapons-free zone in South Asia is therefore meaningless and an unrealistic concept.

India's nuclear policy in the last four decades has been shaped by global disarmament perspective and India's work and record in this area speaks for itself. As far back as 1954 India proposed in the United Nations that nuclear weapons tests be discontinued.

Since then, India has consistently opposed nuclear weapons. India's opposition to the Non-Proliferation Treaty is because it is discriminatory in nature. We continue to be in the forefront in the campaign for nuclear disarmament, most recently in working with five other nations for a comprehensive test ban, through what has become known as the Six Nation Initiative. Pakistan's record is also there for all to see and judge. Pakistan is not so far a party to the Partial Test Ban Treaty.

To place the nuclear programs of India and Pakistan in their proper context, I need only outline their differing characteristics. India operates a nuclear program focused on power production. The Indian Department of Atomic Energy issues a public annual report. The department is answerable to the Indian Parliament in a manner that would be familiar to any democratic society. All aspects of the program are the subject of public debate in a free press. Indian nuclear facilities have been visited by foreign nationals.

The program that Gul would like to equate to this is one spawned basically by a military regime, run in its key aspects directly by the military, and shrouded in utmost secrecy.

Pakistan, knowing this fully well, makes offers of mutual inspections that are meaningless. If Gul complains that "no amount of assurances from Pakistan seem to allay suspicions of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program," he should realize that the world, and not just India, have good reasons to doubt his government's bona fides on this issue.

S.S. MUKHERJEE

Counselor (Press)

Embassy of India

Washington

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