Pakistan Says It Will Not Be the First to Test

International concerns that Pakistan's nuclear testing would resume under the leadership of a military government abated slightly in mid-November when Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar, announcing official government policy, said that Islamabad would not be the first to conduct any new nuclear tests. General Pervaiz Musharraf, who took control of Pakistan in a bloodless coup on October 12, had previously said that he would rule Pakistan's nuclear arsenal with restraint.

Sattar's statement came days before Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in London on November 16 to discuss India's nuclear disarmament, as well as the possibility of India signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and participating in a future Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). Though nothing concrete was produced, Indian Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee was quoted by an Indian newspaper as saying he was trying to build a consensus within India in favor of the CTBT, especially if signature and ratification meant a further lifting of U.S. sanctions imposed after India's nuclear tests in May 1998. During a visit to India in late October, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson had hinted that sanctions might be eased if India signed the CTBT.

Pakistan said it would not sign the CTBT until similar U.S. economic sanctions imposed on Islamabad were lifted. The United States suspended aid to Pakistan when the military government took control, but President Clinton said November 15 that he wants to secure Pakistan's cooperation on nuclear-weapons-related issues and was willing to "engage" the Musharraf government.