WASHINGTON DESK - Following a wave of public disclosures in the past 10 days implicating president Clinton in a scheme that may have given Bejing key U.S. ICBM targeting data, India and Pakistan have ignored warnings of the Clinton White House and restarted the nuclear Doomsday Clock.
Citing clear signs from spy satellites, American officials are now convinced that Pakistan is preparing for an underground nuclear test that could take place as early as Sunday.
Late Wednesday diplomatic, military and intelligence sources were in agreement that spy satellite and ground intelligence have Pakistan preparing for an underground nuclear test as early as Sunday.
Pakistan's first nuclear testing is an apparent reaction to five nuclear blasts that India set off since Monday.
The Clinton White House is aghast at these developments and has rushed a diplomatic team to Islamabad, Pakistan to request Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif to, '...resist the temptation to respond to an irresponsible act.'
If Pakistan continues with the planned nuclear tests, there would be a prohibition on private American bank loans, as well as the threat of the loss of World Bank and International Monetary Fund assistance.
Public records show that the World Bank has in excess of $4 billion in programs under way in Pakistan. IMF loans are also at risk. The IMF has offered Pakistan nearly $2 billion, in a three-year loan program. Any IMF loan proceeds not already disbursed in will be frozen.
The cost to India of its nuclear testing earlier this week resulted in lost American military and economic aid of $145 million just for the remainder of this year.
Pakistan has been capable of conducting a nuclear test since the
early 1990s, American officials said. It has produced enough
fissionable nuclear material for a dozen or more warheads. The warheads,
apparently based on a Chinese design, could be mounted on ICBMs.
The Clinton White House was caught off-balance and has failed to impress India and Pakistan with promised economic and military sanctions to enforce the terms of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty the terms of which have yet to be approved by the Senate.
Pakistan's political leaders mocked Clinton and made their intentions to continue with nuclear testing equally plain. They will respond to India nuclear threat in kind. India's tests '...will not go unanswered,' Gohar Ayub Khan, Pakistani foreign minister told the nation's Senate late Wednesday.
In an obvious plea for support from U.S. allies, U.S. Defense Department spokesman, Bill Cohen said, "We need to bring to bear all of the political will, not only of this country but certainly of all of our allies, to come down very hard on India and to discourage Pakistan from following suit!"
The emergence of a possible nuclear war eventuating from the scenario unfolding between Communist China, and the democracy of India and its competitor, Pakistan is an appalling and unwelcome spectre.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has marked nuclear danger since
1947, when its famous Doomsday Clock first appeared on the cover. Since then, the clock has moved forward and back, reflecting international tensions and the developments of the nuclear age.
On Wednesday, that clock started ticking again.