Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to India has underscored Moscow's willingness to continue its nuclear cooperation with New Delhi, while strengthening Indo-Russian defense ties. Mr Putin's unprecedented visit to the center of India's nuclear weaponization program -- Bhabha Atomic Research Center - was perceived "like a blessing from the top for Indo-Russian nuclear ties." The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding expanding cooperation in peaceful nuclear energy. Details were not forthcoming, but The Hindu quoted sources saying the memorandum "is a Russian commitment to contribute to India's growing nuclear energy requirements."
Pakistan reportedly has begun full-scale production of the Shaheen I, a 600 km-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile, successfully tested in April 1999. On September 21, the Pakistani daily The News quoted an unnamed government official saying, "mass production of Shaheen, which can hit Indian strategic points like Mumbai [formerly known as Bombay] and others with 100% accuracy, has started.
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."
Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee reaffirmed that "subject to its supreme national interests" India "will continue its voluntary moratorium until the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) comes into effect." The joint statement with President Clinton also reiterated that the Indian government would "continue efforts" to create a national consensus on the CTBT, in order to bring the discussions "to a successful conclusion." India also stated its commitment "not to block entry into force of the Treaty." The statement echoed the Prime Minister's assertion in a speech to a joint session of Congress on September 14, that India did not wish to "unravel" Washington's non-proliferation efforts. Mr. Vajpayee has attempted to shift Washington's focus on dangers emanating from South Asia, from non-proliferation to terrorism.
Time and again, US officials have stated that they do not want America to become the policeman of the world. Yet the one institution that can help the United States from being placed in that role-the United Nations-has been treated shabbily by the United States. The United States must re-affirm the UN’s mission with concrete action, beginning with the payment of long-overdue UN dues.
History of the Nuclear Age Series
Having decided to emphasize military security, India's and Pakistan's nuclear threats must now be complemented by enhanced diplomatic engagement between India and China on one side, and India and Pakistan on another.
These are not happy days for global arms-control advocates. As far back as the early 1960s, policymakers warned that the true threat to the United States was not only that third-world despots might acquire the bomb but that advanced industrial countries might do so.
Why did India bid for nuclear weapon status at a time when 149 nations had signed a ban on nuclear testing? What drove India's new Hindu nationalist government to depart from decades of nuclear restraint, a control that no other nation with similar capacities had displayed? How has U.S. nonproliferation policy affected India's decision making?