India OKs Nuke-Test Ban

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 was delivering 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.

Vajpayye 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.

Written by Nicole Winfield