For joint action

Print edition : May 23, 1998

FROM Lisbon to Berlin and from Stockholm to Rome, governments and the media in 15 European Union countries responded negatively to the Indian nuclear tests; and there was disbelief over the "whoops of delights from most Indians." In a state of sang-froid pique, the governments appealed for joint and stern response to ensure that India is convinced that it is "not business as usual." United States President Bill Clinton has been urged to cancel his visit to India. The Economist wanted Russian President Boris Yeltsin also to do so.

On sanctions, Britain and France have kept their options open. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said that the Indian nuclear tests were "wrong" but any decision on sanctions would require study. However, the German Government instantly cancelled the Indo-German talks scheduled for May 12 in Bonn .

The debate in the European media about the proposed U.S. sanctions has been acrimonious. Dusseldolf-based Handelsblatt commented: "The nuclear explosions seemed to have the effect of a coup for the Indian public rather than a shock. President K.R. Narayanan, who has just been honoured as a global statesman in New York, called out to (Indian) scientists - " India is proud of you" ... It is a paradox that despite its traditional policy of non-violence, the country adores its army and considers the nuclear bomb as a stake in the combat of nations. The anti-nuclear movement (in India) is restricted to a few intellectuals, academicians, and many leftists and Gandhians remain ambiguous."

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