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United Nations: India May Block Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

Geneva, 14 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Disarmament negotiators in Geneva are meeting again today to try and forge a unanimous compromise on a world nuclear test ban treaty.

But French Ambassador Joelle Bourgois said that delegates expect India to veto the wording of the treaty. She said the Indian delegates have already announced that intention. She made her remarks as she entered the closed door meeting.

Both India and Iran say they oppose the wording of the text and will not allow it to pass.

But delegates at the 61-nation Conference say they could still take the treaty to the U.N. General Assembly for signing without unanimous approval.

Australian Ambassador Richard Starr said the work the negotiators did must not be lost.

"That would be a criminal waste," he said.

In New Delhi, India's main opposition party pressed Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda not to agree to any compromise on the treaty.

The right-wing Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, which briefly assumed office after the general elections in May, vows to build a nuclear arsenal if it again takes power. It said India should not allow any such treaty to be brought to the U.N. General Assembly for approval.