Pakistan, India fail to get nuclear club nod from NAM

By Paul Richardson

DURBAN, South Africa, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Pakistan and India have been unable to win recognition from the Non-Aligned Movement for their standing as nuclear states, despite bitter wrangling over the issue at the 12th NAM summit.

NAM declared that possession of nuclear weapons could not be justified and expressed their concern at the slow pace of progress towards nuclear disarmament, according to a final document due for release at the summit's close.

``There is no justification for the maintenance of nuclear arsenals, or concepts of international security based on promoting and developing military alliances and policies of nuclear deterrence,'' the NAM leaders said in their 127-page final document.

Delegates from 113-member nations wrangled for days over the wording of the document which did not acknowledge Pakistan and India's nuclear status.

``Nothing has happened here to in any way legitimise the fact that there are two new nuclear weapons states,'' a summit source said.

Sources said much of the haggling centred on both India and Pakistan wanting to become part of the so-called ``nuclear club'' of countries before becoming signatories to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Both countries, which carried out tit-for-tat underground nuclear tests in May that raised concerns about a regional nuclear arms race, held several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit.

Sources said the issue of nuclear disarmament had been one of the most contentious issues on the summit's agenda.

``The disarmanent group met for at least 17 hours on the first three days,'' another source said.

``It was obviously a difficult and long discussion because of the new security situation in the Asia,'' the source added.

In its final document, the movement welcomed various international initiatives aimed at curbing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

``With the end of the end of the Cold War the opportunity now exists for the international community to pursue nuclear disarmament as a matter of the highest priority,'' the document said.

Indian and Pakistani delegates told Reuters earlier in the week that talks aimed at paving the way for a meeting between their respective leaders in New York later this month had been constructive.

Echoing South African President Nelson Mandela's call for nuclear disarmament to remain high on the movement's agenda, the summit called for a conference next year to address the issue.

``The heads of state... called for an international conference, preferably in 1999, with the objective of arriving at an agreement, before the end of this millennium on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons,'' the document said.

It added that a top priority was a universal, unconditional and legally-binding instrument that would give security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states.