India's prime minister said Thursday his country was prepared to conclude discussions on the nuclear test ban treaty, following Pakistan's pledge to sign on to the pact.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee said in prepared text he planned to deliver to the General Assembly Thursday that India wanted the treaty to go into force no later than September 1999.On Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in his General Assembly speech that his country was ready to adhere to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, even as he warned that compliance would depend on whether rival India resumed its tests.
India had been participating in discussions in Geneva on the treaty through 1996, when it refused to continue, arguing that the declared nuclear powers had to agree to a deadline to destroy their arsenals.
The five declared powers - the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia - refused, and India pulled out of the talks.
Vajpayee said India conducted its nuclear tests in May because of the "deteriorating security environment which has obliged us to stand apart from the CTBT in 1996."
Now that India's security interests are settled, India wants to continue to cooperate with the international community and is in discussions with key countries on a range of issues, including the test ban treaty.
"We are prepared to bring these discussions to a successful conclusion, so that the entry into force of the CTBT is not delayed beyond September 1999," Vajpayee said in the text.
"We expect that other countries will adhere to this treaty without conditions," he said.
The United States and other nations imposed economic sanctions - cutting off all loans - after India and Pakistan carried out nuclear tests in May.
The tests sparked fears of a nuclear arms race in South Asia.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars - two over the disputed state of Kashmir - in the 51 years since the independent states were carved out of the British empire.