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World - Africa

Pakistan may be preparing for new nuclear test

Baluchistan
File photo from Pakistan's Baluchistan province, where Thursday's test was conducted  
Latest developments: May 28, 1998
Web posted at: 7:54 p.m. EDT (2354 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. officials said Thursday that Pakistan appears to be prepared for another nuclear test, even as world leaders searched for ways to stop a nuclear arms race on the Asian subcontinent.

Pakistan detonated nuclear devices underground in a remote area early Thursday, triggering world condemnation and almost certain hardship from economic sanctions.


A L S O :

World condemns Pakistan nuclear tests

U.S. officials, who asked not to be named, said U.S. spy satellites are monitoring a second location where it is believed a nuclear device has been placed in an underground shaft and encased in concrete.

U.S. officials told CNN that there are "some indications" that Pakistan may be planning a second test -- but said they were not "predicting" a test.

Pakistan's president declared a state of emergency hours after the first devices were detonated, citing threats of "external aggression."

Pakistani men
Pakistanis in Islamabad celebrate Thursday's testing  

The terse announcement by Rafiq Tarar, carried by the state-run news agency, didn't identify the aggressor, but Pakistan has accused neighboring India of threatening to attack its nuclear installations.

Indian officials in New Delhi said such actions were "out of the question."

The Pakistani president also passed a law to prevent the flight of capital from the country, apparently in anticipation of economic sanctions against Pakistan.

Earlier in the day, Pakistani men danced in the streets of Islamabad in celebration of the tests, but sobered when they heard of the belt-tightening that may be required because of sanctions.

Tests were smaller than Hiroshima

The United States announced it would impose sanctions on Pakistan similar to those placed on India after it conducted nuclear tests earlier this month. Other countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also may sanction Pakistan.

U.S. officials, including President Bill Clinton, said they won't give up on trying to stop a nuclear arms race in the region.

"It is now more urgent then it was yesterday that both Pakistan and India renounce further tests, sign the comprehensive test ban treaty and take decisive steps to reduce tensions in South Asia and reverse the dangerous arms race," Clinton said.

Clinton
Clinton responds to Pakistan's testing Thursday  

"I cannot believe that we are about to start the 21st century by having the Indian subcontinent repeat the worst mistakes of the 20th century."

The underground detonations occurred about 3:30 p.m. (1030 GMT/6:30 a.m. EDT) in the Chagai region of Pakistan's desolate southwestern Baluchistan province. U.S. officials estimate the yield of the explosions at between five and 10 kilotons, smaller than the bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima.

While Pakistan said five devices were detonated, U.S. officials could only confirm "multiple explosions." Some analysts were skeptical of Pakistan's claim and suggested that five "may be a convenient number" because India conducted a total of five tests.

"We have settled the score," Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a nationally televised address defending the explosions. "I am thankful to God."

Sharif said India's recent nuclear tests violently tilted the balance of power in the region, and combined with India's deployment of long-range Prithvi missiles against Pakistan, seriously threatened his country's security.

The Pakistani ambassador to the United States Riaz Khokhar said fear of India outweighed any concerns Pakistan might have about U.S. sanctions.

U.S. works to stop arms race

White House officials said the sanctions would include cutting off most U.S. aid to Pakistan and suspending U.S. support for international lending to the South Asian nation.

The testing also reduces to near zero any chance Pakistan may obtain any of the dozens of F-16 fighter bombers it purchased years ago from the United States. Delivery had been suspended by the Bush administration because of suspicions that Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons.

Talbott
Talbott  

U.S. aid to Pakistan totals a mere $6 million, but Pakistan depends heavily on loans from international lending agencies like the World Bank and IMF.

Under U.S. law, Clinton is required to impose sanctions on nations that detonate nuclear devices.

But Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said the sanctions should only be seen as the means to a greater end.

"We will also try to use these laws as instruments for achieving long-term strategic objectives, not to punish for sake of punishment, but to try to induce these countries to do what is in their interest," Talbott said.

Talbott listed steps the United States will ask both Pakistan and India to take, including taking part in talks to end production of materials used to make nuclear bombs, and restraining from arming or deploying ballistic missiles.

"By failing to exercise restraint," Clinton said in Washington, "Pakistan lost a truly priceless opportunity to strengthen its own security (and) improve its political standing in the world."

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

Clinton spoke by phone to Russian President Boris Yeltsin about working to prevent an arms race in South Asia, the Kremlin said.

World condemnation

U.N. Security Council President Njuguna Mahugu said the council is preparing a formal statement on the tests.

"They called upon Pakistan and India to stop all nuclear testing and related activity immediately," he said.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, the current president of the European Union, said "we are dismayed by the nuclear tests which have been carried out by Pakistan."

"We condemn this action, which runs counter to the will expressed by 149 signatories to the (comprehensive test ban treaty) to cease nuclear testing, and to efforts to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime," Cook said.

"It accentuates our grave concern about the increased risk of nuclear and missile proliferation in South Asia, and of escalating tension in that region."

The French Foreign Ministry told CNN it "deplored" and "condemned" the nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan.

Ministry spokesman Yves Doutriaux said the tests went against international efforts to control nuclear weapons, and he urged Pakistan to show restraint.

NATO Secretary General Javier Solona said NATO foreign ministers strongly condemned testing by both India and Pakistan, which has "profound implications for the security of the region and beyond that.

Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.

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