GENEVA (AP) — The world’s five longstanding nuclear powers urged India and Pakistan on Thursday to step back from the brink of a nuclear arms race by keeping their bombs and missiles in storage and coming to the bargaining table to resolve decades-old disputes.
The five also rejected conferring permanent membership in the “nuclear club” upon India and Pakistan, saying that to do so would encourage other nations to defy global arms reduction efforts.
A joint communique approved by foreign ministers from the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain contained neither incentives nor sanctions geared to pressure the two arch-rivals. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said “sanctions are counterproductive; they have the biggest impact on the common people,” not on leaders. The document was also silent on what the five powers would do if India and Pakistan conduct further nuclear tests.
France also has opposed the use of sanctions, and that was reaffirmed Thursday by Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine.
Instead, the five powers settled on broader language intended to project unanimity about a crisis they view as in danger of spinning out of control.
Each brought a different perspective to the meeting. The United States sees its global arms control and nonproliferation imperiled by the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests. Russia has strong ties to India, while China tends to tilt toward Pakistan and is believed to have provided it with nuclear technology.
In their communique, adopted after a two-hour closed meeting at U.N. headquarters in Geneva, the ministers expressed concern about “the danger to peace and stability in the region” and pledged to cooperate closely.
India and Pakistan should “stop all further tests” and “refrain from the weaponization or deployment of nuclear weapons, from the testing or deployment of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and from any further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.”
The communique adopted Thursday urges India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty unconditionally — meaning without any “rewards” such as official nuclear status, permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council or any changes in the obligations the treaty imposes on nuclear powers.