Letter: Give India help on Test Ban

Sir: The Foreign Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, is visiting India to press the Indian Government not to oppose the forwarding of the draft Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the UN General Assembly.

India's opposition to the current CTBT text is founded - rightly or wrongly - on its concern that the nuclear weapons states have yet to demonstrate their agreed commitment, as outlined in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to the eventual abolition of all nuclear weapons.

Many countries, India included, will be particularly dismayed at the lack of progress on disarmament measures made by the medium-size nuclear powers - Britain, France and China.

Mr Rifkind could pull off a diplomatic coup on his visit to India by providing the Indian Government with assurances about Britain's intentions with respect to its nuclear arsenal, and thus hasten India's acceptance of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

In particular, Mr Rifkind should state specifically that Britain's Trident nuclear arsenal will be included in START III negotiations, and that Britain will support the creation of an ad hoc committee on disarmament at the UN Conference on Disarmament to discuss a Nuclear Weapons Convention, which would seek to control the fissile materials and dismantle the launch systems of nuclear weapons.


Chair, CND, London N7