Mon, Jan 02, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Pakistan, India exchange list of nuclear facilities

ANNUAL RITUAL The two nuclear rivals have swapped such lists on New Year's Day every year since 1992 in a bid to head off a catastrophe

AFP , ISLAMABAD

Nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India yesterday exchanged lists of their nuclear facilities in line with an agreement to swap such information annually on New Year's Day, the foreign ministry said.

The two countries swapped the information under an agreement signed in 1988 on the prohibition of attacks on each other's nuclear installations, the ministry said in a statement.

The agreement came into force in 1991 and the first such exchange of information was on Jan. 1, 1992.

Under the agreement both Pakistan and India are to refrain from attacking each other's nuclear facilities in the event of a war.

India conducted nuclear weapons tests in May 1998 and Pakistan in a tit-for-tat response detonated its own devices a few days later.

The rivals have fought three wars, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir which is divided between them and claimed in full by both.

After coming close to another war in 2002, in January 2004 they began talks to resolve all their disputes including the Kashmir issue.

They are scheduled to begin the next round of official-level peace talks from Jan. 17-18 in New Delhi.

The peace process has so far produced a number of largely symbolic steps, including cross-border bus services and the resumption of sporting ties, but progress has been sluggish on central issues.

Last year in October the two countries formalized an agreement on pre-notification of ballistic missile tests. They have also set up a telephone hotline to prevent accidental nuclear conflict.

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