New Delhi, India — India asked representatives of a visiting U.S. delegation Monday to prevent Pakistan from using its nuclear program to produce atomic weapons, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
The spokesman said Indian Foreign Secretary Romesh Bhandari made the request in discussions with Assistant Secretary of State Michael H. Armacost and Donald Fortier, the third ranking official in U.S. Foreign office. Bhandari told the visiting delegation that U.S. could play a major role in monitoring the Pakistani nuclear program and stopping it from making weapons, the spokesman said.
India repeatedly has expressed fears that Pakistan’s program is not directed solely for peacetime purposes but is aimed at producing the fissionable, highly radioactive material needed for a nuclear weapon.
U.S. officials said the delegation, also to visit Pakistan, was dispatched to register American concern at a potential nuclear arms race developing between the two South Asian neighbors.
India exploded a nuclear device in 1974 and says it has not produced an atom bomb.
Last year, intelligence analysts in Washington warned that India might be tempted to launch a preemptive strike at Pakistani nuclear facilities if it believed Pakistan was close to producing a nuclear bomb.
Two days ago, Pakistan said it would “retaliate with all available resources” if its nuclear center just outside Islamabad was attacked.
After his June trip to Washington, Gandhi said he had won President Reagan’s assurances that the United States would do everything possible to stop Pakistan from producing nuclear weapons.
Armacost and Fortier also met Indian Defense Secretary over possible purchases of arms by India.
India has relied on the Soviet Union and Western Europe for most of its imported weapons so far, but appears to be giving more serious consideration to buying U.S. weapons.
However, Indian officials have complained that U.S. arms sales are encumbered with too many restrictions.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said the officials also reviewed the situation in South Asia and the conflict in Afghanistan.
Article extracted from this publication >> September 20, 1985