Return of the Bomb; 9 YEARS AFTER END OF THE COLD WAR, INDIA'S NUCLEAR TEST BLAST BRINGS BACK THE THREAT OF A HOLOCAUST

Article excerpt

WHEN Anek Kanwar's cow started shaking they thought it was an earthquake.

Three huge jolts shook the ground followed by a terrifying rumbling from deep under the earth.

Hundreds of families fled their swaying homes in the hamlet of Pokaran, 330 miles south-west of New Delhi.

"We thought an earthquake had come to kill us," recalled 13-year-old Anek yesterday.

Hours later on Monday night they heard on the radio the real reason.

They had been rocked not by a quake but by three underground nuclear explosions.

Now it's the rest of the world that's shaking - with anger. Nine years after the fall of the Berlin Wall signalled the end of the Cold War, the blasts have triggered global condemnation.

The tests, 20 miles from Anek's home in Rajasthan's Thar desert, were close to India's border with Pakistan.

And they have turned South Asia overnight into one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints, locking India and its bitter enemy Pakistan - as well as China - into an escalating nuclear arms race.

The blasts were seen as a warning to both countries that their own nuclear programmes would not go unanswered.

India and Pakistan have already fought three wars - a fourth is one of the West's worst nightmares

China is helping Pakistan develop nuclear and missile know-how. Now India, run by a new, more right-wing Hindu government, has hit back.

Pakistan will be under pressure from its own generals and people to hit back at India by setting off its own nuclear device. Add to the mix China, which still occupies territory captured from India in 1962, and it is clear why the world is so concerned. …