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Pakistan steadfast in refusal to sign nuclear test ban treaty

Abdul Sattar
Abdul Sattar (L) with Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori  

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Pakistan has reasserted its refusal to sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty while pledging that it will not resume nuclear tests.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar visited Japan in a bid to persuade Tokyo to lift economic sanctions put in place after Islamabad conducted nuclear tests in 1998.

Japan expects Pakistan to sign the treaty before agreeing to resume economic relations with Pakistan, Sattar told CNN after meeting with Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

Sattar said Pakistan would not sign the treaty for "domestic reasons," but would maintain the moriamtorium on nuclear testing.

"Pakistan will never be the first to resume nuclear tests," he said.

"Pakistan has strengthened custodial controls against unauthorized accidental use of nuclear capability we will fulfill the central requirements of the treaty. Even though, for our domestic reasons, we're not in a position to sign it at this time," he said.

He added that the government had yet to build a domestic consensus with some Pakistanis who were "traumatized by the events of 1971 when our country was cut into two as a result of aggression."

Islamabad fears it would lose its nuclear defense shield by signing the treaty and become "a victim of aggression again," he said.

Sattar said Pakistan had not set a timeframe for the signing of the treaty, adding that the government needed to convince the people that it would not harm the country's nuclear capability.

Islamabad has other priorities such as economic revival and democratization, he said.

"For all these reasons, we feel we need to wait for the development of this consensus so that we don't create artificial problems," he said.

Pakistan and India were locked in a nuclear testing race in 1998.



RELATED STORIES:
White House study: U.S. should ratify nuclear test ban treaty
Bullets, bitter words fly over Kashmir

RELATED SITE:
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty site

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