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Libmonster ID: IN-29
Author(s) of the publication: Robert Serebrennikov
Source: TASS, 05-12-98

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Amidst mixed feelings at the Russian parliament towards India's nuclear tests, a lawmaker urged on Tuesday not to impose any sanctions against New Delhi.

Chairman of the security committee at Russia's State Duma lower house of parliament Viktor Ilyukhin said "this is an extreme measure to be used with appropriate caution.

However, he said India's three nuclear tests had created "a certain danger that can torpedo all nuclear test ban agreements," adding that over the past few years, France and India have set up a dangerous precedent in this field.

Ilyukhin said Russia, China and the UN should adopt in this connection relevant statements warning India.

But head of Duma's geopolitics committee Aleksei Mitrofanov told reporters that India "had made the right move since it is faced with a quite tangible danger from Pakistan."

"It is generally known that Islamabad carries out its nuclear tests which are supported by the Western alliance, so India has no other option," Mitrofanov stated.

Russia should review its stance towards nuclear test bans, he said, adding that the country needs nuclear tests on a limited scale.

"Nuclear weapons should be tested, although very rarely -- one should watch what is happening around," Mitrofanov said.

According to the lawmaker, the Liberal Democrats have drawn a draft resolution recommending the president to carry on with limited nuclear tests. "I believe we'll greenlight the document," Mitrofanov noted.

He also called for further arms supplies to New Delhi. "India is our strategic ally, we have never had any problems with it. We should understand that India has a problem with Pakistan," he said.

On Tuesday, the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry said it regrets India's having conducted another nuclear test.

First Deputy Minister for atomic energy Viktor Mikhailov told Itar-Tass that the test could prove "the start of a new spiral in the development of nuclear weapons for so-called threshold countries".

Mikhailov called for India's signing the international comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty and putting its nuclear programme under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA.

"According to our national means of control, the underground explosion in Thar Desert on May 10 was the second nuclear test which India has conducted," MIkhailov said, adding the first test was in 1974.

He stressed that India carried out its nuclear test on its own. Russia's transfer of any nuclear technology to India is out of question as Russia complies with all international agreements, he said.

Mikhailov said the recent nuclear test is unlikely to affect the Russian-Indian cooperation in civilian uses of nuclear energy.

"Our contacts have very deep roots and the struggle in the world market for construction of nuclear electric stations is very stiff, so I hope that the leadership of the country will reserve this market for us," Mikhailov said.

The former Soviet Union and India first signed a contract for construction of a nuclear power plant in southern India in 1988, but financial problems aborted the project.

India resumed talks on the construction project with post-Soviet Russia a few years ago.

The bulk of technical details of the future project have been has been solved, but the financial supplement to the accord has not been signed so far, although "it is ready on the whole". Mikhailov said.

Russia is expected to export two VVER-1000 light water reactors to India. Mikhailov said the nuclear power plant construction project will be placed under the IAEA's control and will not contravene any of international agreements.

Also on Tuesday, President Boris Yeltsin's spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said the Kremlin thinks that the Indian nuclear tests "destroy the fabric of international understandings" and hopes that New Delhi would join the treaty banning such tests.

"We are by far not delighted by actions of this sort. We think that India earlier or later -- better earlier than later --

will join the international convention on the comprehensive nuclear test ban," Yastrzhembsky told journalists.

Earlier, President Yeltsin declared that "India let us down with its explosion but I think that by working in a diplomatic way, by visits, we must secure a turnaround in their position."



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