India's Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee arrives in Washington on September 13, amidst international fears that South Asia remains a nuclear tinderbox. According to the outgoing Indian Chief of Army Staff, "the chances of war are much more than they were …five years ago."

The good news is that war did not break out this summer. A short-lived cease-fire between India and the militant Hizbul Mujahideen held-out the prospect of peace in Kashmir. Furthermore, weaponization remains nascent, and New Delhi appears to have distanced itself from last year's hawkish Draft Nuclear Doctrine.

At the UN Millennium Summit, Mr. Vajpayee reaffirmed India's moratorium on nuclear testing and said India "will not prevent the entry into force" of the Test Ban Treaty. He said India would join negotiations to ban weapons-grade fissile material. India's newfound confidence in Washington, engendered by President Clinton's visit, suggests that New Delhi will be loathe to unduly upset the United States any time soon.

Thus far, nuclear policy has been largely confined to nuclear bluster. The military has yet to be included in nuclear policymaking, there has been little discussion or progress on viable command and control, military operations and contingency measures.

Still, incremental weaponization continues. India has authorized the production of 300 short-range, nuclear-capable Prithvi missiles. In June, India successfully tested the Prithvi missile off its Eastern coast, and in April the government took a decision that ended independent safety oversight of India's foremost nuclear organization, the Bhaba Atomic Research Center, a move widely perceived as indicative of stepped up weapons-related activity.

South Asia stubbornly resists a peace process as the heated rhetoric and "proxy war" continues unabated in Kashmir. India's Chief of Army Staff, General V. P. Malik, notes, however, "by and large the nuclear factor stands neutralized today on both sides." This telling statement belies the contention that India's nuclear tests enhanced the country's national security.