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Friday, October 8, 1999 Published at 19:45 GMT 20:45 UK

World: South Asia

India: No change on nuclear policy

Thar desert: Site of Indian nuclear tests

India is continuing to resist calls to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty aimed at ending all nuclear tests.

The outgoing Indian government had reportedly suggested earlier this month that it would give the treaty a top priority if re-elected. But a Foreign Ministry official has said India's position has not changed.

But on Friday the French news agency AFP reports a ministry spokesman as saying: "We continue to insist that a positive environment is created before a final decision is taken".

Earlier, a joint declaration, issued by nearly 100 countries at the end of a three-day conference in Vienna on kickstarting the CTBT's implementation, urged countries like India and Pakistan to approve the treaty.

South Asia tests

It was under returning Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's previous administration that India conducted a series of nuclear tests in May 1998, sparking similar tests by Pakistan. Both countries also tested missiles renewing fears of an arms race on the subcontinent.

US President Bill Clinton has tried to persuade both countries to sign the CTBT. But India's political crisis precipitated by the defeat of the last BJP-led government in parliament in April put a temporary end to any chance of change.

President Clinton is currently campaigning to persuade the Republican majority in his own US Senate to ratify the treaty.

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