India to nuclear powers: Quit preaching, get rid of your atomic arms

NEW DELHI, India (AP) — Insisting his nation has a right to defend itself, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee told the world’s five original nuclear powers Tuesday to get rid of their own atomic arsenals rather than preach abstinence to India.
In Geneva, the five charter members of the world’s nuclear club, including the United States, joined 41 other nations in demanding that both India and Pakistan immediately stop testing nuclear arms and sign on to the global campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons.
Vajpayee called on those five nations — the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia — to get rid of their nuclear arms.
Vajpayee, head of India’s new Hindu nationalist-led government, noted that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan himself had cited a need to rethink disarmament issues.
“I want to add that the time has come not just to think, but to act as well,” he said to wide applause. “There have been endless meetings, discussions and seminars on disarmament, but no steps have been taken to get rid of nuclear weapons.”
At an emergency meeting of the 61-nation Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, 46 members said India’s and Pakistan’s tests last month “blatantly undermine” attempts to halt nuclear proliferation and threaten efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.
The five original nuclear weapons powers were among those backing the statement. Also supporting the ban on further testing were Japan, South Korea, South Africa and European and Latin American nations. Countries from the Middle East were conspicuously missing, however.
In his speech Tuesday, Vajpayee reiterated that he had asked India’s scientists to test only as many devices as needed to safeguard India’s security and then ordered a moratorium on further tests.