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World: Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Brings Varied Reaction

London, 11 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Britain says it is "very disappointed" by India's decision not to sign a treaty banning all nuclear testing that was overwhelmingly endorsed by the U.N. General Assembly last night.

A Foreign Office spokesman told a news conference in London today that, in common with most of the rest of the international community, Britain is very disappointed by India's decision to block the treaty in Geneva and not to sign the text endorsed yesterday.

He said U.N. endorsement of the treaty was "a historic achievement." The treaty requires the signature of all 44 nations with nuclear industries before it comes into force.

Meanwhile, Germany today welcomed the United Nations' overwhelming adoption of a nuclear test ban treaty, but warned that there were still important hurdles standing in the way of a complete halt to global nuclear testing.

Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said last night's vote in the General Assembly was an "historic breakthrough on the road to a complete test ban." He added "We may not be able to put the genie of the atom back into the bottle, but we have at least tamed it."

And French President Jacques Chirac today said the UN vote would finally allow the world "to turn the page on the nuclear arms race."

Most nations endorsed the treaty in New York, but India was the sole undeclared nuclear state to oppose the treaty, effectively blocking its coming into effect.

Indian Foreign minister Inder Kumar Gujral today called the treaty a worthless "charade" and a deliberate attempt to deceive the world because it still allows the five declared nuclear powers -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- to continue laboratory testing. India also is worried about China's nuclear capability and that of its rival neighbor, Pakistan. India, reported to be one of three "threshold states" with a nuclear weapons capability, said it would not sign because "countries around us continue their weapons programmes either openly or clandestinely."

Both the United States and France have said they believe a way can be found to have India's security concerns met, so enabling India to sign on to the treaty.