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Tuesday, May 12, 1998 Published at 06:48 GMT 07:48 UK

World: Analysis

Banning the bomb: the state of play
image: [ Banning the bomb ]
Banning the bomb

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

India refused to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) when it was agreed by the United Nations and opened for signature on September 24, 1996. The treaty has been signed by 149 states and ratified by 13.

Supporters of the CTBT argue that the treaty will put a halt to the nuclear arms race, since it would severely hamper the development of new types of weapons. But India considers the treaty discriminatory and argues that it does not include a commitment to world disarmament.

Pakistan, with which India has fought three wars in the past, has said that it will not sign the treaty until India does.

Among the signatories of the treaty are the five powers that have officially admitted having nuclear weaponry - Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States.

For the CTBT to come into force, it should be ratified by 44 states, including the five nuclear powers and the so called "threshold" states - states with nuclear facilities, including India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.

If these states have not signed the treaty by September 1999, a review conference will decide what action to take.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty

India, together with Pakistan and Israel, is also among the three nations widely suspected of nuclear capability that have not joined the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is now observed by 185 countries - the most widely adhered to arms control agreement in history.

The NPT aims basically to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It remains the cornerstone of international efforts to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons.

Recent Nuclear Tests

In other recent tests, France began its last series of underground nuclear tests in the South Pacific in 1995 and ended them early in 1996 after heated international protests.

China exploded an underground nuclear test in the desert in its north-western Xinjiang province on June 8, 1996 - a blast a Japanese scientist estimated at about 200 kilotonnes.

Another test followed on July 29 that same year and afterwards China declared a moratorium on nuclear tests.

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