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World - Africa

Pakistan reportedly detonates nuclear devices

graphic May 28, 1998
Web posted at: 8:08 a.m. EDT (1208 GMT)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan detonated three nuclear devices Thursday, according to official sources. The tests in a remote western region of Pakistan come two weeks after neighboring India conducted a series of underground tests bringing worldwide condemnation and sanctions from the United States and Japan and raising fears of a nuclear arms race in the South Asian subcontinent.

After the test, Pakistan issued a statement saying it is ready to adapt a nuclear warhead to its newly tested long-range missile.

Khan: Crisis pushes Pakistan closer to China

Pakistani Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan says his country could absorb a nuclear attack easier than India  

The specter of Pakistani nuclear tests was raised after its arch-rival, India, exploded five underground nuclear devices earlier this month. The United States and Britain have been pushing the Pakistanis not to respond in kind, a move they fear could set off an arms race in South Asia.

"We are obviously engaged in a serious discussion with (Pakistanis) about their security in the aftermath of this decision by India to test, and how our relationship with them could be enhanced," said State Department spokesman James Rubin.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan said he was not aware of any specific discussions about the United States providing security guarantees to Pakistan. Rather, he said discussions have centered on a shipment of F-16 jet fighters, which Pakistan arranged to buy from the United States in the late 1980s. Congress has blocked the transfer because of Pakistan's fledgling nuclear program.

The Pakistani foreign minister also indicated that the crisis over India's nuclear tests may push Pakistan closer to China because "the friends that we were with during the Cold War ... were not forthcoming in the hours of crisis."

"We've always had the best of relationships with China -- a relationship on which we can rely upon, a relationship we can trust, a relationship which has depth and forms the cornerstone of our foreign policy, a relationship on which the people of Pakistan can rely," he said.

Nuclear tension

The Bomb:Who has it? Who wants it?

A cold war of words:Gauging the rhetoric exchanged between India, Pakistan

TIME:Why the CIA didn't have a clue...

Treaty Text: Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty

Background Special:India and Pakistan -- Fifty years of independence

Message Board:Will India's testing prompt new arms race?

Related Site:
Federation of American Scientists

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

China and India have been long-time political rivals, and the perceived threat from China was one of the reasons Indian officials gave for proceeding with nuclear tests.

Pakistani delegation in Washington this weekend

On Wednesday, the Pakistani Embassy in Washington announced that a delegation from Pakistan will arrive in the U.S. capital for discussions this weekend. The delegation will be headed by Akram Zaki, a member of Pakistan's legislature who has close ties with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

While the itinerary is not complete, the embassy said the delegation will try to meet with officials at the State Department and the National Security Council, as well as members of Congress.

State Department officials have told CNN that dialogue between Pakistan and the United States is continuing at the highest levels. President Bill Clinton has spoken to Sharif directly at least three times.

Fears that sanctions may push Pakistan into default

  Pakistani Debt
  • Foreign Reserves -- $1.2 billion
  • Short-Term Debt -- $5 billion to $6 billion

According to an official with an international lending organization, Pakistan has financial reserves of only slightly more than $1 billion, while its short-term debt, due in the next three months, is between $5 billion and $6 billion. Some experts fear that sanctions could push Pakistan into default.

"Pakistan may be driven to test a nuclear device for political reasons within the country, (to) show its own people that it can do this, even though, from the standpoint of a national interest, it would be better off not testing," said Asian analyst George Perkovich.

State Department Correspondent Andrea Koppel, Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre, Reporter Kasra Naji and Reuters contributed to this report.


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