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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

India Balks At Signing Test Accord

GENEVA -- India threatened on Thursday to refuse to sign a nuclear test ban treaty, raising the specter the global pact would never enter into force, diplomats said.

Arundhati Ghose, India's ambassador, said the current draft contained "weak and woefully inadequate" commitments to nuclear disarmament and would give an edge to powers rich enough to refine their nuclear arms by methods like computer simulation.

She was addressing the Conference on Disarmament, a United Nations-sponsored forum which is racing to conclude a comprehensive test ban treaty by June 28.

The pact would prohibit all nuclear explosions. Major powers insist all three nuclear "threshold" states -- India, Israel and Pakistan -- ratify before the treaty becomes law.

But Ghose accused the five declared nuclear states (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) of working to further retain their "monopoly" through the pact.

"Today, the right to continue development and refinement of their [nuclear] arsenals is being sought to be legitimized through another flawed and eternal treaty.

"Such a treaty is not conceived as a measure towards universal nuclear disarmament and is not in India's national security interest," she added. "India, therefore cannot subscribe to it in its present form."

In Delhi, Foreign Secretary Salman Haider made clear India would not seek to block a consensus in the negotiations. He told a news conference: "There is no walkout in the talks. We are not in the position of trying to block this or block that."

India wanted a treaty banning "all nuclear testing without leaving any loopholes that would permit nuclear weapon states to continue refining and developing their nuclear arsenals at their test sites and in their laboratories," Ghose said.

Some Western diplomats expressed alarm, saying in effect it meant the treaty could be held hostage until Delhi was fully satisfied with the complex text. Others saw it as tactical, designed to extract further concessions.

Sir Michael Weston, Britain's disarmament ambassador said of the Indian speech: "It is a perfectly fair negotiating tactic. The negotiations are not over. None of us are very satisfied. We are all making compromises."