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Peace Movement Aotearoa

PO Box 9314, Wellington. Tel (04) 382 8129, fax (04) 382 8173,

Issued 12 May 1998

Kia ora,

By now you may have heard the reports that India conducted three nuclear weapons tests at their nuclear test site near the border with Pakistan yesterday. The PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced that the tests were of a fission device, a low-yield device and a thermonuclear device; and that they did not result in the release of any radioactivity into the atmosphere. These are the first nuclear weapons tests explosions by India since 1974.

These tests have taken place in the context of increased concern that the new BJP government in India is committed to further developing India's nuclear weapons arsenal, and fears that this will prompt a nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan / China. As you may also be aware, the Preparatory Committee meeting for the 2000 Review Conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is currently underway in Geneva - the PrepCom is currently in disarray as agreement cannot be reached on three areas - the Middle East, security assurances and nuclear disarmament.

On nuclear disarmament, there is a proposal to include a reference to the International Court of Justice opinion ... "to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects". Some of the nuclear weapons states, perhaps unsurprisingly, wish to dilute this reference.

Just to remind you, Article VI of the 1968 NPT itself states that parties to it ..." undertake to
pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament".

In addition, these tests take places at a time when the US government is partway through its own nuclear weapons tests programme for 1998, and as we refer back to some of our Action Alerts regarding the US test series last year we note that the one sent out on 17 September 1997 pointed out ... " Furthermore, the new Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is breached at least in spirit by this test series (and some argue it is breached in fact); continuing with these tests may stop the CTBT entering into force as non-nuclear weapons and threshold nuclear weapons states perceive them to be an indication of the US government's lack of commitment to nuclear disarmament; and it may encourage other nuclear weapons states to begin their own sub-critical nuclear weapons tests. "

Well, we wish we hadn't been right about that.

Reports received this morning suggest that the US government will now be considering trade sanctions against India as a result of yesterday's nuclear weapons tests - well, what can we say except the hypocrisy levels are going up again !

Things you could do :

a) Contact the Indian High Commissioner giving your views on the tests - Mr Kipgen, P0 Box 4045, Wellington. tel (04) 473 6390, fax (04) 499 0665. Mr Kipgen is the new High Commissioner, replacing Mr Meena who we have worked with in the past about India's position re nuclear weapons - Mr Kipgen began his appointment as High Commissioner today.

b) Contact Jenny Shipley and Don McKinnon and congratulate the NZ government on reacting so promptly in summoning the Indian High Commissioner to express formal disapproval of the tests ... and pointing out that you will be expecting the US Ambassador to be summoned in a similar fashion when the next US nuclear weapons test takes place. This may give some satisfaction to those of you who have written to them about this very issue in the past ! Prime Minister's office tel (04) 471 9998; fax (04) 473 7045; Don McKinnon's office tel 471 9999; fax 471 1444 or write to them at Parliament Buildings, Wellington (no stamp needed).

c) If you are really in protest mode today, you could also contact the diplomatic representatives of the other nuclear weapons states and point out yet again that this situation is precisely why they need to begin GENUINE moves towards nuclear disarmament now - a good start would be to stop their continued development of new nuclear weapons systems.

In the case of Pakistan and China you could also express your desire for them not to make any retaliatory or proliferating responses; in the case of the USA you could comment on their ongoing nuclear weapons testing programme; and in the case of the Russian Federation you could express your fervent hope that their government will not approve any further 'sub-critical' nuclear weapons tests.

Pakistan - Deputy High Commissioner - Mr Amir Shadani, 4 Timbarra Cres, O'Malley, Canberra, ACT 2606, Australia. Tel + 61 2 6290 1676, fax + 61 2 6290 1073.

USA - Ambassador - Mr Josiah Beeman, 29 Fitzherbert Tce, Thorndon, Wellington. tel (04) 472 2068, fax (04) 471 2380.

Britain - High Commissioner - Mr Martin Williams, 44 Hill Street, Wellington. tel (04) 472 6049, fax 471 1974.

Russian Federation - Ambassador - Mr Sergei Belyaev, 57 Messines Road, Karori, Wellington. tel (04) 476 6113, fax (04) 476 3843.

People's Republic of China - Ambassador - Mr Chen Wenzhao, 2-6 Glenmore Street, Kelburn, Wellington. tel (04) 472 1382 / 025 475 100, fax (04) 499 0419.

France - Ambassador - Mr Jacques Le Blanc, 34 - 42 Manners St, Wellington. tel (04) 384 2555, fax (04) 384 2577.

Israel - Ambassador - Ms Lydia Choukron, DB Tower, 111 The Terrace, Wellington. tel (04) 472 2368, fax (04) 499 0632.

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