Pakistan Balks at Test Ban Treaty

UNITED NATIONS -- India's rival, Pakistan, said it will not sign a proposed treaty banning nuclear test blasts, citing New Delhi's refusal to support the agreement.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty would ban nuclear test blasts, making it more difficult for countries to upgrade their arsenals.

India said it will vote against the ban because it does not call for nuclear disarmament. India, which conducted its only nuclear test in 1974, also said it would refuse to sign the treaty, which would block it from becoming law.

"Countries around us continue their weapons programs either openly or in a clandestine manner,'' Indian Ambassador Prakash Shah told the General Assembly. "In such an environment, we cannot permit our option to be constrained or eroded in any manner as long as nuclear weapon states remain unwilling to accept the obligation to eliminate their arsenals.''

India borders China, a nuclear power, and Pakistan, which has an advanced nuclear program. India has fought three wars against Pakistan and one against China since independence in 1947.

Pakistan said it would vote for the draft in the General Assembly but would not sign the treaty.

Supporters of the treaty have said that overwhelming support for the agreement could pressure states into honoring the ban.

The major nuclear powers -- the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China -- support the draft treaty. Sponsors are pressing for a vote Tuesday and hope that the agreement is available for signing when world leaders gather at the General Assembly later this month.

"We are confident that the ... General Assembly will come to the correct decision and bring the dream of a nuclear test ban into reality,'' said Sha Zukang, China's ambassador for disarmament.

If approved by the assembly, the treaty must be signed and ratified by the 44 nations known to have nuclear reactors before it becomes law. That would give India or Pakistan the ability to stop the treaty from going into force.

Last month, India effectively vetoed the proposed treaty at a Geneva drafting conference, ending 2 1/2 years of negotiations.

But Australia assembled a group of the treaty's supporters and brought the proposal to the General Assembly as a draft resolution.

Australia's move was unusual as treaties are generally brought to the General Assembly for endorsement after they are unanimously approved at drafting conferences.