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The President's Radio Address

May 16, 1998

Good morning. This week I want to speak to you about a matter of grave concern to the United States and the international community: India's nuclear test explosions. These tests were unjustified and threaten to spark a dangerous nuclear arms race in Asia. As a result, and in accordance with our laws, I have imposed serious sanctions against India, including an end to our economic assistance, military financing, and credit or loan guarantees.

I'm at the G-8 summit of the major industrial powers in Birmingham, England, where the major nations here, along with friends and allies around the world, have joined us in condemning India's actions

This is especially disappointing to me because I have long supported stronger ties between the United States and India. After all, India will soon be the world's most populous country. Already it has the world's largest middle class and 50 years of vibrant democracy to its credit. And America has been immeasurably enriched by the contributions of Indian-Americans who work hard, believe in education, and have really been good citizens.

For all these reasons, the United States and India should be close friends and partners for the 21st century. And they make it all the more unfortunate that India has pursued this course at a time when most nations are working hard to leave the terror of the nuclear age behind. So in this instance, India is on the wrong side of history.

Over the past few years, we've made remarkable progress in reducing nuclear arsenals around the world and combating the spread of nuclear weapons. Building on the work of the Reagan and Bush administrations, we entered that START I treaty into force, lowering both Russian and American nuclear arsenals. And we ratified START II to go further. Now, when Russia's Parliament approves START II, we'll be on course to cut American and Russian nuclear arsenals by two-thirds from their cold war height.

We also worked with Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan to return to Russia the nuclear weapons left on their land when the Soviet Union broke apart. We extended indefinitely and unconditionally the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which makes it harder for states that do not now possess nuclear weapons to acquire them. And just last month, working with the United Kingdom and the Republic of Georgia, we helped to secure a small amount of bombgrade uranium in the Republic of Georgia that could have posed a serious danger if it had fallen into the wrong hands.

Two years ago I was proud to be the first national leader to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, first proposed by President Eisenhower, advanced by President Kennedy, and brought to conclusion by my administration working with almost 60 other nations. This treaty, called the CTBT, bans all nuclear explosions, thus making it more difficult for the nuclear states to produce more advanced and dangerous weapons and much harder for nonnuclear states to develop them in the first place. Already, 149 other nations have signed on.

The CTBT also strengthens our ability to detect and deter nuclear testing by other countries. That's a mission we must pursue, with or without this treaty, as India's actions so clearly remind us. The CTBT's global network of sensors and the short-notice on-site inspections it allows will improve our ability to monitor and discourage countries from cheating.

I submitted the treaty to the Senate last fall. Now it's all the more important that the Senate act quickly, this year, so that we can increase the pressure on and isolation of other nations that may be considering their own nuclear test explosions.

The Indian Government has put itself at odds with the international community over these nuclear tests. I hope India will reverse course from the dangerous path it has chosen by signing the CTBT immediately and without conditions. And India's neighbors can set a strong example of responsibility for the world by not yielding to the pressure to follow India's example and conduct their own nuclear tests. I hope they won't do that.

We have an opportunity to leave behind the darkest moments of the 20th century and embrace the most brilliant possibilities of the 21st. To do it, we must walk away from nuclear weapons, not toward them. Let us renew our determination to end the era of nuclear testing once and for all.

Thanks for listening.

NOTE: The address was recorded at 11:20 p.m. on May 15 at the Swallow Hotel in Birmingham, United Kingdom, for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on May 16.

William J. Clinton, The President's Radio Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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