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Thursday, May 28, 1998

CONTACT: Steven Dolley

President, Nuclear Control Institute
on Pakistan's Nuclear Tests

The greatest danger from today's nuclear tests by Pakistan is the danger of nuclear war. India and Pakistan now find themselves on a slippery slope that could cause them to stumble into actual use of the weapons they have demonstrated. The religious passions that have driven them into three wars over the past 50 years could overwhelm any deterrent effect they hope to gain from these dreadful weapons.

Both sides should take a deep breath and consider the historical lesson of 1962, when the United States and the Soviet Union moved to the brink of nuclear war over Cuba. We now know something we did not know then. Had President Kennedy ordered the invasion of Cuba, Russian commanders in Cuba were under orders from Premier Khruschev to launch nuclear missiles against the United States.

Kashmir is today's Cuba. India and Pakistan are poised to fight over Kashmir, only now they have nuclear weapons to back up their passionate claims to this disputed territory. A miscalculation by either side could result in the unthinkable calamity that the United States and Russia barely avoided in 1962.

The best hope for averting this calamity is for the world community, not just the United States and Japan, to impose the harshest economic sanctions on India and Pakistan. Unless their is a powerful domestic reaction in these two countries to the wrongheaded decisions being made by their political leaders to go down the nuclear path, there can be little hope of capping and rolling back their nuclear-weapon programs.

President Clinton should be blunt with European and Russian leaders who refuse to impose sanctions in the hope of profiting from lucrative deals with India and Pakistan. Supreme U.S. and global interests are at stake. The nuclear contagion could spread from South Asia to the Middle East, where Iran, Iraq and Libya are surely considering their nuclear options in the light of how the world reacts to India and Pakistan.

President Clinton should also remind Indians and Pakistanis, leaders and citizens alike, of the effects of nuclear weapons. He should send them by Federal Express the films of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the densely populated Subcontinent, these horrors could multiplied many times over.

Finally, the President should take personal command of U.S. nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament policies, whose recent blunders and miscalculations have contributed so greatly to the South Asian nuclear crisis.

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