Sri Lanka Forum for Nuclear Disarmament
425/ 15 Thimbirigasyaya Road
Colombo 5, Sri Lanka
Tel/Fax 501339

Protest Against Missile Tests
by India & Pakistan

18 April 1999

The Sri Lanka forum for Nuclear Disarmament strongly condemns the latest
round of missile tests carried out by India and Pakistan. It also condemns
these governments' cynicism and indifference to the protests of civil
society from all over South Asia, including the thousands of people in India
and Pakistan who took to the street in marches against nuclear proliferation
in the region.

The aim of the Agni 2 and Thrishul tests on the Indian side and the Ghauri
2 and Shaheen missiles on the Pakistani side are to demonstrate that these
countries are capable of targeting each other's most populous cities with
nuclear missiles. It is also suspected that the latest Indian test is in
line with expanding the range of the Agni 2, currently at 2000 kilometers,
to a range of 3000 to 5000 kilometers with the capability of targeting China.

Engaging in nuclear rivalry with China can only bring China and Pakistan
closer, affecting the balance of power in the region considerably. Sri
Lankans, given their geographical proximity to India, view with concern
these developments. Nuclear fallout does not respect national boundaries. If
a nuclear bomb were to be dropped on either India or Pakistan, Sri Lanka
will suffer serious environmental harm for decades to come and be affected
by the economic and political instability in the region that will ensue.

The Lahore declaration signed by India and Pakistan in March this year only
agrees to warn each other of impending nuclear and missile tests. In doing
so, this agreement paradoxically legitimizes the development and testing of
their respective nuclear arsenals. The deterrence argument too feels hollow
in the light of South Asia's appalling record on safety mechanisms and
political instability. Once nuclear weapons are in place, they can be used
for political opportunism (that the BJP government tested the Agni and
Thrishul missiles just as it was set to fall is no coincidence). The
militant rhetoric has returned, and the latest events show the fragility of
the so-called India-Pakistan strategic equation while also making
reconciliation between the two countries all the more difficult.

The Sri Lanka Forum for Nuclear Disarmament states that a country's real
security can only be a democratic society in which people have the right to
education, shelter, healthcare and political choice. In a region where so
many live below the poverty line, the vast sums of money spent in developing
and maintaining missile and nuclear arsenals is abhorrent. It calls for an
immediate halt to the missile and nuclear arms race of India and Pakistan
and for negotiations that would lead to nuclear disarmament and a peaceful
and secure South Asian region.

The Sri Lanka Forum for Nuclear Disarmament

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