India Goes Nuclear: Rationale, Benefits, Costs and Implications

By Malik, J. Mohan | Contemporary Southeast Asia, August 1998 | Go to article overview

India Goes Nuclear: Rationale, Benefits, Costs and Implications


Malik, J. Mohan, Contemporary Southeast Asia


There is nothing quite like a big bang to focus minds, shatter prevalent myths and draw the attention of the whole world. With three big bangs on the afternoon of 11 May 1998, India - long suspected of being a nuclear weapons state - finally came out of the nuclear closet. Two days later, New Delhi tested two more nuclear devices, all of which was to eventually force Pakistan to follow suit. By blasting its way to self-proclaimed status as a nuclear power, India put a question mark over the widespread view that economic interdependence, globalization in the information age, and international co-operation will override traditional geopolitical concerns or military rivalries in the post-Cold War era. The tests challenged the myth that the world could live happily with the Big Five powers (the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China) armed to the teeth, while others could not. And they fundamentally altered the nuclear balance of power and undermined the global nuclear non-proliferation regime just when it seemed to be in the process of consolidation. India's nuclear tests marked an end not only to ambiguity and uncertainty about India's nuclear posture but also to a 34-year long debate by India's strategic community (which began soon after China exploded its first nuclear bomb in 1964) over the pros and cons of going nuclear. No other nuclear weapons state (NWS) had ever agonized for as long as India has over whether it should or should not be a nuclear power. There are two important questions in this context. Why did India publicly decide to go nuclear? And what are its implications?

Rationale

There were several reasons behind India's decision to blast its way into the exclusive nuclear weapons club. Those reasons are rooted in broad geopolitical issues and extend far beyond the narrow confines of the Indian subcontinent. Seen from New Delhi's perspective, these constituted compelling reasons for it to acquire nuclear weapons.

The year 1995 marked a turning point in India's policy towards nuclear weapons. India had all along championed the goal of nuclear disarmament, as opposed to nuclear non-proliferation. For this reason, New Delhi refused to sign the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on the grounds that it perpetuated a "nuclear apartheid" of haves and have-nots, with the five haves failing to commit themselves to disarmament. From India's perspective, the indefinite and unconditional extension of the NPT in 1995, which divided the world permanently into the nuclear haves and the have-nots, demonstrated that the five NWSs - which also happened to be the five permanent members (P-5) of the United Nations Security Council - were unwilling to negotiate, in good faith, nuclear disarmament. Then came the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) of 1996 with its controversial "Entry Into Force" clause. This clause, inserted primarily at China's insistence, was strongly resisted by India, which required New Delhi to sign the CTBT by September 1999 or face the prospect of UN-imposed trade sanctions similar to the ones against Iraq. The utility of the CTBT lies in its ability to permanently freeze the perceived strategic and technological advantages of the NWSs while forever foreclosing the nuclear option to any other state. The discussions leading up to the CTBT shattered New Delhi's "misplaced hope in nuclear disarmament" in the post-Cold War world.(1) Wedged between a nuclear-armed China and a nuclear-capable Pakistan, India defended its right to build nuclear weapons on national security grounds. The NPT and CTBT were seen as "instruments of surrender" and "unequal treaties", accession to which would have amounted to relegating countries like India into the ranks of second-grade nations.(2) Confronted with the cruel choice of "use it or lose it" on the long-held nuclear option, India resolved to break out of the straitjacket stipulations of the CTBT and thereby end the monopoly of the five NWSs. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

India Goes Nuclear: Rationale, Benefits, Costs and Implications
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.