PM Blair says India's nuclear programme should not be compared to N. Korea's

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Addressing a joint press conference with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, British PM Tony Blair urged countries not to compare the nuclear-weapons policy of India with that of North Korea, saying that New Delhi had always been "very strong on non-proliferation." Blair also said that Britain "welcomed" China's strong stand against N. Korea's nuclear programme.

"We hope for a revitalisation of six-party talks," Blair said, talking about the situation in the Korean Peninsula after North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Monday. "North Korea's nuclear test is a violation of its international commitment."

Singh, on his part, stated that India did not support the emergence of North Korea as a nuclear state and added that India's own security had been affected by "clandestine proliferation in the neighbourhood." He also mentioned that there were no parallels between India (which is one of 8 countries that currently possess nuclear weapons) and North Korea.

Blair also mentioned Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q Khan (who sold nuclear technology to states like Iran and N. Korea), saying "We have had some success on countering proliferation by bringing in Libya from the cold and shutting down the A Q Khan network."

India first tested nuclear weapons during Operation Smiling Buddha in 1974, and since then, is believed to have developed between 200-700 nuclear warheads. India does, however, follow a "no-first-use" policy and permits only the Cabinet Committee on Security (headed by the Prime Minister) to authorise a nuclear strike.