News & Views
Iran unveils India-Pakistan proposals
GENEVA, June 4 (UPI) -- Iran's foreign minister has unveiled measures to bring India and Pakistan back from an escalating nuclear arms race.
Speaking just hours before U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her counterparts from the five permanent nuclear powers were scheduled to discuss the nuclear testing by India and Pakistan, Iranian Foreign Minister Kaman Kharrazi said the proposals include ``dialogue at the highest levels'' between the South Asian neighbors. Following talks in Islamabad and New Delhi Wednesday Kharrazi outlined for a set of possible steps that could be followed.
These included dialogue at highest possible levels, where possible, between India and Pakistan on all outstanding issues including peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir, confidence building measures, and nuclear issues including the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
The Iranian official said India and Pakistan should avoid ``the assembly or deployment of nuclear weapons.''
Kharrazi said, ``The nuclear Sword of Damocles is now hanging over the region by a slender thread....We need to move to help defuse tensions prevent further escalation.''
He said Iran deplored the recent nuclear testing by India and Pakistan and said: ``We condemn them because they aim solely toward building the ultimate killing machine. We despise these abhorrent weapons and we want them wiped out not spread.''
Kharrazi said his impression was that the growing trend and pressure to impose sanctions on India and Pakistan would not be the right approach.
``Rather than remaining fixated on the negative...I suggest to seek to accentuate the positive, however modest or meager it might be under the present circumstances.''
Shortly afterwards he told reporters, ``We all doubt seriously that.. .there would be any action to undo what has been done. Knowing India and Pakistan as I do, I do not believe for a minute that they will yield or even bend under pressure.''
The Iranian minister, however, also placed the blame for the breakout of a nuclear race in South Asia on the failure by the P5 members -- the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain -- to respond to demands for ``genuine moves'' on nuclear disarmament.
He also noted that failure by Israel to join the non-proliferation treaty and to accept international atomic agency safeguards has gravely endangered the security of the entire region and renewed calls for establishment of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
Asked whether Iran would follow India and Pakistan and join the nuclear arms race, Kharrazi responded: ``Not at all, we have been very transparent about this....We are against the development of nuclear weapons.''
One top Western adviser said it was ``a very clever move by Iran to address disarmament and tell the world, 'Look, we are clean.'''