U.S. calls for Security Council meeting as South Asia nuclear threats heat up
Pakistan said to be ready to test again
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Web posted at: 7:28 p.m. EDT (2328 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Even as the United States worked to convene a high-level meeting to discuss the nuclear arms race in South Asia, intelligence sources said Pakistan may be ready to test nuclear devices again as soon as this weekend.
State Department spokesman James Rubin said Friday that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is personally arranging a meeting next week with her counterparts, the foreign ministers of the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council.
"We hope that as a result of the kind of meeting we're trying to arrange, that the various permanent members of the council can bring to bear some leverage and turn this process around before it's too late," said Rubin.
The United States is also preparing to formally impose sanctions against Pakistan, as required by law.
Pakistan is ready to test another nuclear device as soon as this weekend, U.S. intelligence officials said Friday. They also are expected to be ready to conduct additional tests of their ballistic missiles within the next week, said the officials.
U.S. to arrange coordinated approach
In an interview with CNN's Tom Mintier, on the day after Pakistan matched its archrival India with five nuclear detonations, the nation's foreign minister would not deny that more tests may be conducted.
"Pakistan has made no mention of ending our tests," Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan told Mintier, without confirming or denying that future tests were planned. "We have a missile program, and it is in the national interest whatever we want to do."
But the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of Pakistan's Senate, Akram Zaki, says Pakistan has written the United Nations to propose a new nonaggression pact between India and Pakistan and new bilateral negotiations.
The purposes of the meeting of the Security Council foreign ministers, Rubin said, "would be to develop a coordinated common approach to this grave situation."
Officials say President Clinton is demanding that both India and Pakistan:
Avoiding a nuclear accident
The United States is also discussing ways to help the two countries avoid an accidental nuclear war, especially if Pakistan carries out its threat to arm its Ghauri missile with a nuclear warhead.
During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union developed an elaborate safeguard system, including a special hot line linking the two nations and strict authorization procedures for a launch.
"We don't have any assurance that the Indians or the Pakistanis have such systems," says Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.
Pakistan declared a state of emergency Friday, and Khan said Pakistan was worried about an Indian strike.
"Just after midnight a source from India gave us the information that those aircraft were mounted with long-range missiles and the attack would be launched against Pakistani installations."
Rubin said the United States is not recalling its ambassador to Pakistan and will shortly send its ambassador to India back to New Delhi. Ambassador Richard Celeste was called home after India detonated five nuclear explosions.
"We think it's appropriate to have ambassadors (there) to try to work with the governments involved, so that the decisions they take in the coming days and weeks will turn around the troublesome, dangerous trend that we've seen in recent weeks," Rubin said.
But the White House is also warning of "severe consequences" for Pakistan and India, which one source says is diplomatic code for further curtailing relations.
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