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– Hans Blix,
Former IAEA Director-General
The Risks of Further Nuclear Testing in South Asia
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There is a puzzle about India's and Pakistan's policies on nuclear explosive testing. If the Indian and Pakistani governments are determined to establish convincing nuclear deterrents, and if India wishes to develop the triad of nuclear forces proposed in the recently published draft nuclear doctrine, why do they appear content to limit themselves to five or six tests apiece from which rather little of military value may have been gained? Why were the May 1998 tests followed by expressions on both sides of willingness to join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and by the Indian and Pakistani governments' joint commitment to moratoria on testing in the Lahore Declaration of February 1999?<1> Why was their reaction to the U.S. Senate's rejection of the CTBT so muted

The historical experiences of other states that have constructed nuclear deterrents, together with India's and Pakistan's commitment to deploying nuclear weapons, suggest that the international community should be wary of placing its trust in the existing moratoria and should be alive to the pressures that may build in India and Pakistan for a return to testing. Furthermore, the U.S. Senate's recent rejection of the test ban could provide a convenient rationale for India and Pakistan to resume testing.

However, the Senate's action, when combined with the recent elections in India and the military coup in Pakistan, can also be seen as having eased the pressures to resume testing. Paradoxically, this unexpected confluence of events may have actually made the return to testing in Pakistan and India less likely than it was before—at least in the short term. India's and Pakistan's current interests may encourage them to retreat from their aggressive postures. But this situation is, most likely, only temporary. These events have brought an opportunity to bind India and Pakistan more tightly to the no-testing norm, and that opportunity needs to be seized, above all by the Indian and Pakistani governments, and seized soon.

Why Limit Testing?

During the Cold War, the importance of assessing new warhead designs through explosive testing was constantly emphasized by the scientists and engineers responsible for the U.S., British, French and Soviet weapons programs. Although performing tests was clearly in their professional self-interest, the scientists' claim was based on the reasonable contention that the performance of warhead designs could not be predicted with sufficient confidence if they were not test exploded. This applied especially to thermonuclear designs and to warheads that were being miniaturized for delivery by missiles. Without substantial numbers of tests, it was argued, armed forces would not trust the weapons. Equally important, an adversary might be prepared to gamble on a high rate of failure in a nuclear war.

Yet here we have two states embarking on ambitious programs of nuclear deterrence with the evidence gained from just five or six explosive tests, some or all of which may have been less successful than hoped. Furthermore, the Indian devices are claimed to have included thermonuclear and boosted fission designs, indicating that the Indians, if not the Pakistanis, have extensive technological ambitions.<2> Concerns about those ambitions have been reinforced by the August publication of the National Security Advisory Board's Draft Report on Indian Nuclear Doctrine (hereinafter the Draft Report). It recommends that India's nuclear forces should be based on a "triad of aircraft, mobile land-based and sea-based assets." The report's appearance has been accompanied by statements elaborating on plans to deploy long-range missiles and build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

Soon after the tests, the Indian and Pakistani governments announced their moratoria on further testing. Why should India and Pakistan, unlike other states that have developed military strategies founded on nuclear deterrence (Israel being the one exception), appear prepared to forego the knowledge that would be gained from conducting further series of explosive tests? There are four possible explanations:

Acquisition of knowledge from abroad

The first explanation is that India and Pakistan might have already obtained tested designs or pertinent test data from other sources. This seems unlikely in India's case, but there have been various allegations that China transferred design information to Pakistan and that a Pakistani weapon may even have been tested in China. Furthermore, the warhead designs may have been engineered to be mounted on missiles supplied to Pakistan by China.

This would not be the first instance of such transfers. China received technical assistance from the Soviet Union in the 1950s, as did Israel from France, and weapon design information has been routinely exchanged by the United Kingdom and the United States since their Mutual Defense Agreement was concluded in 1958. However, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) bars transfers of weapon-related technology to states other than the nuclear-weapon states-parties (NWS) to the treaty.<3> The consequence is that no NWS, including China since its accession to the NPT in 1992, is today legally entitled to assist India or Pakistan with its weapons program. If either country received such assistance in the past, it cannot rely upon it in the future.

Technological expertise could also have been gained through theft or espionage. Besides Pakistan's theft of centrifuge designs from Urenco in Holland in the 1970s, there is no evidence that this has occurred. The amount that states can learn from the open literature should not, however, be underestimated. Indian research laboratories have devoted substantial resources to the systematic scanning and assimilation of knowledge and information contained in U.S. journals and public documents. Although many details would still be missing from these sources, the need for weapon designers to reinvent the wheel has been significantly reduced by the appearance of so much information in the public domain.

Reliance on non-explosive testing

A second possible explanation for India and Pakistan's self-imposed limitation on testing is that they have developed or gained access to other techniques for assessing the performance of nuclear warhead designs. It became apparent during the CTBT negotiations that a wide range of non-explosive techniques, from sub-critical testing to computer simulation, have been developed over many years by weapon laboratories in the NWS. Even larger investments in these techniques are currently being made, especially in the United States under the auspices of its Stockpile Stewardship Program.<4> The Indian government has been prominent in claiming that these techniques could together provide an adequate substitute for explosive testing, causing the test ban to be a blunt instrument in preventing the NWS from developing new designs.

Although the investments in non-explosive techniques give justifiable grounds for concern, their developmental utility can be overstated, especially for countries like India and Pakistan, which may lack the human and financial resources necessary to achieve the required sophistication of technology. Predictions based on the use of such techniques may, in any case, be reliable only if hardware and software have already been calibrated with information derived from explosions. The United States can found its "virtual testing" capability upon data acquired from over 1,000 nuclear explosions. Indian and Pakistani weapons laboratories have probably gone to considerable lengths to acquire non-explosive techniques, but it is questionable whether they or their military clients would wish to place full confidence in them even if they had been fully mastered.<5>

Nuclear weapons as political and symbolic instruments

The third possibility is that prior to the events of 1998 and 1999 India and Pakistan did not regard nuclear weapons as war-fighting assets in the same manner as the NWS came to view them during the Cold War. Especially in the formative period of the 1950s and in the 1960s, when tactical weapons were being developed for use on a European battlefield, military planners in the East and the West demanded information on the precise effects of nuclear explosions. For Indian and Pakistani policymakers, the objective was probably confined until very recently to establishing the potential for a nuclear force whose only imagined targets were Islamabad, New Delhi and other population centers. Nuclear arms were regarded as instruments of political persuasion and, insofar as military strategists gave them any thought, as defensive instruments whose military role would remain secondary to conventional weaponry. It was therefore sufficient to indicate a capacity to detonate comparatively simple fission devices that would still be highly destructive if exploded over urban centers.

Perhaps most important, the political symbolism of nuclear weapons has thus far meant more to Indian politicians and the Indian public than their military utility. India has long been motivated by a desire to possess this ultimate symbol of national power and by an equal desire to counter the discrimination it considers to have been practiced against it by the NWS, armed with the NPT's legal restrictions as set forth in Article IX.3.<6> To the extent that power balancing has inspired India's actions, it has entailed redressing imbalances rooted in political psychology—above all the psychology of grievance—more than redressing imbalances in the customary power resources available to states. The term "nuclear apartheid" has come to express the deep resentment felt over what Indians see as an orchestrated denial of the status and respect due to a great nation.

From this perspective, the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) purpose in conducting the tests in 1998 was to allow India to step through the looking glass into another world where it could at last mingle on equal terms with the great powers. It also represented a "lashing out" against the NPT, the CTBT and all the perceived indignities meted out to India by the United States and other powers since the 1960s.

International constraints

The fourth possible explanation of India and Pakistan's limitation on testing is that they have felt obliged to exercise and advertise restraint because of the high costs of engaging in explosive testing to their relations with other states. The tests conducted in May 1998 already carried high risks. The taboo against explosive testing of any kind had become deeply rooted, and there was a powerful international interest in confining the number of nuclear powers and in upholding the newly founded CTBT and the norms it expresses. Testing was bound to evoke strong feelings among India's and Pakistan's friends in the non-aligned movement as much as among the NWS and their allies.

It was therefore imperative in May 1998 for India and Pakistan to present their tests as one-time unrepeatable events if the political and economic fallout was to be kept within acceptable bounds. To have embarked on an open-ended series of tests would have risked much greater damage to their economies and foreign relations. It is unlikely, for instance, that economic sanctions would have been as light or as temporary if the moratoria had not been declared. At home, the prospect of continued testing might also have opened up deeper divisions over the direction in which policy was moving.

Nuclear Policies Evolve

The Indian and Pakistani governments may not have believed after May 1998, and may still not believe, in the desirability of further explosive testing. The tests may have been considered successful enough to proclaim their nuclear status and justify moving ahead with a limited deployment of the tested designs. However, building a survivable nuclear deterrent is a complex learning process, and the knowledge and expertise that is required at one stage may not have been foreseen at an earlier stage. Furthermore, a wider set of actors, especially involving the armed forces, comes into play once the testing threshold is crossed.

Looking back at the histories of nuclear weapons programs in the NWS, it is tempting to conclude that the courses followed after their first nuclear tests were charted in advance. This would be an error. In Britain's case, for instance, there was little idea of the numbers and types of weapons that would be deployed, how they would be delivered to their targets, what those targets might be, how Britain's actions would affect and be affected by the actions of friends and foes, and whether and how the whole adventure could be afforded economically. Not until well into the 1960s were Britain's nuclear policies and strategies in any sense "settled."

The same applies to India and Pakistan after May 1998. Although both states seek to give a different impression, they still give the appearance of countries stumbling into futures that they do not know and may be unable to control. For India, it is a future that political elites believe can bring significant gains. For Pakistan, it is a future that is full of danger but that has come to be regarded as inescapable if honor is to be preserved and Pakistan is to avoid subjugation.

The commitments to active nuclear deterrence that followed the May 1998 tests required both countries to embark immediately on a set of "discoveries" of a practical and conceptual nature:

• the discipline, practice and theory of command and control;

• what it means to have nuclear "doctrines" and "strategies," and what their contents should be;

• the political and instrumental arts of managing deterrent relations; and

• how to recast foreign relations in the novel circumstances that now pertained.

In Pakistan, there is little public evidence that a coherent set of policies and practices has taken shape. Internally and externally, Pakistan's situation is so unstable that the rational foundations of effective deterrence are bound to be hard to establish. Nevertheless, the severity of the perceived threat from India appears to have driven a rapid assimilation of nuclear arms into Pakistan's military thought and praxis, including consideration by the armed forces of how nuclear weapons might be used to advantage on the battlefield. The traditional interpenetration of Pakistan's political and military institutions may have facilitated that process. Pakistan's nuclear policies have always had a harder military edge than India's.

In India's case, we have been given the first sight of a nuclear doctrine in the Draft Report published by the Indian government on August 17, 1999. Four things immediately strike the reader about this document. The first is that, if this document is in any sense representative, the course that India has embarked upon is now seen as undisputed and irreversible in New Delhi. There may be significant disagreements over detail and emphasis, but the shift toward active nuclear deterrence is already entrenched. The non-weaponized deterrence that India practiced before 1998 has been discarded. Those who still press India to renounce nuclear weapons and join the non-nuclear fold are, if truth be told, tilting at windmills.

The second noteworthy feature of the Draft Report is the ambition that it reveals among an influential community in India, albeit ambition that is cloaked in the language of moderation and restraint. The report speaks of "retaliation only," of "minimum deterrence" and of the necessity of "survivability." But as one reads the document, it becomes apparent that the imagined retaliation is pretty massive, that the minimum deterrent is pretty maximal, and that survivability implies development of a wide range of weapon systems and C3I capabilities. The document's espousal of a triad of forces has given everyone pause for thought:

India's nuclear forces will be effective, enduring, diverse, flexible, and responsive to the requirements in accordance with the concept of credible minimum deterrence. These forces will be based on a triad of aircraft, mobile land-based missiles and sea-based assets in keeping with the objectives outlined above. Survivability of the forces will be enhanced by a combination of multiple redundant systems, mobility, dispersion and deception.<7>

One of the Draft Report's authors subsequently commented that "India's nuclear force is likely to include not more than a few dozen weapons in the next five years," an example of hawkishness dressed up in the language of moderation.<8> If that is the immediate plan, what size of force, one is bound to ask, is intended within 10 or 15 or 20 years? An article in the Indian journal Frontline summed up the point nicely: "While formally reiterating the position that India should build a credible, minimum nuclear deterrent, the document in outlining the details of the proposed nuclear doctrine, prescribes in fact an open-ended, far-reaching program of nuclear weaponisation with maximal capabilities."<9>

Pakistan evidently shares this interpretation. On September 22, 1999 Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz told the UN General Assembly that "hopes of restraint have been shattered" by the announcement of India's doctrine, and warned that its pursuit would compel Pakistan to "enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities and operational readiness to preserve deterrence."

The third feature of the Draft Report is its air of unreality, even amateurism.<10> Surprisingly, it appears that no members of the armed forces were included in the group that drew up this nuclear doctrine, and that its authors may have lacked other access to military expertise. The current text gives little sense of how the strategic ambitions enunciated in it might be realized in practice: how the resources might be found, who would provide the materiel and infrastructure, how the weapons would be absorbed into military strategies and force structures, and what the opportunity costs might be. Although the unreality could prove temporary, it provides some grounds for optimism. If and when submitted to tough scrutiny, greater realism may be brought to bear upon the Draft Report's proposals. That could mean that there will be less urgency to develop new warhead designs than the report implies.

Set against this, the desire to learn more about existing designs and to validate the claims of India's nuclear scientists could increase once the military becomes more deeply involved. We also know from history how capabilities can balloon especially if, as reference to a triad implies, interforce rivalry is given its head. Careless and partisan assessments of early proposals can send countries down costly paths from which escape is difficult.<11> Indian politicians should read the Draft Report as a deliberate exercise in political entrapment as much as an attempt to flesh out a plausible nuclear doctrine.

In India's case, the ambitions of its scientists, the armed forces' increasing need to involve themselves in nuclear decision-making and their possible demand for more precise information about weapon performance, and the increased power of research and development (R&D) organizations and their success in expanding their budgets all point toward an increase in pressures to test. Although those pressures may be held in check for the time being, the issue of testing is unlikely to go away if not settled through an international treaty.

Finally, the Draft Report is noteworthy for its lack of attention to the arms control regime. In the section headed "Disarmament and Arms Control," there is advocacy of global disarmament and of international agreements on "no first use" and negative security assurances, but there is no statement on testing, let alone mention of the CTBT. Nor is there mention of the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT), which seeks to ban the production of fissile materials for explosive purposes, potentially bringing further restraint to South Asia.<12> Furthermore, the Draft Report's preceding section on research and development consists of the following two paragraphs alone:

India should step up efforts in research and development to keep up with technological advances in this field.

While India is committed to maintain the deployment of a deterrent which is both minimum and credible, it will not accept any restraints on building its R&D capability.

These words invite the interpretation that at minimum the option of testing is being kept open, and that at maximum India should build up its capabilities in preparation for further explosive testing. If these interpretations are incorrect, those drafting this document should have taken more care in their choice of words.

Recommendations

The consequences for international security of a resumption of testing in South Asia—or indeed of renewed uncertainty over India's and Pakistan's intentions in this regard—would be grievous. It would inflict further damage on the CTBT and its prospects. It would send ripples into other parts of Asia and into the Middle East, encouraging other states to initiate or accelerate programs to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And it would strengthen the hands of those in China who may already be advocating a return to testing in response to India's nuclear expansionism and to U.S. plans to invest in missile defense systems.

The long-term consequences to the non-proliferation regime of a return to testing would be especially severe if it brought no concerted international response. The immediate international reaction today could well be weaker than in May 1998, when it was coordinated and energized by the U.S. government. The United States lost much of its authority in these matters after the Senate's recent decision. Beyond that, the UN Security Council may be less able to marshal an effective response given the deep divisions that have opened up between the United States and both Russia and China on other matters. There may be little appetite for fresh economic sanctions, partly because of the awareness that they could be the last straw for Pakistan's beleaguered economy. Governments in the non-aligned movement (NAM) may again refrain from outright criticism because of their concerns with the actions of the NWS and their obstruction of nuclear disarmament.

Despite the blow dealt to the process by the Senate's vote, the international community must continue to work to prevent a resumption of testing in South Asia. There are a number of actions that can be taken:

1. Testing moratorium

The immediate priority is to maintain the moratoria on testing (undeclared in the case of Israel, which has, however, signed the CTBT) that are currently in place in all states with nuclear weapons programs. Unfortunately, history has repeatedly shown the fragility of unilateral moratoria. The United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France have each announced and abandoned such undertakings in the past. The CTBT has therefore not lost its relevance. Universal signature, if not ratification, of the treaty will be an essential objective if commitments made by India and Pakistan in the Lahore Declaration are to be entrenched and if the CTBT's normative prestige is to be re-established.

2. Continued push for ratification.

Although U.S. ratification is clearly the most important requirement for bringing the CTBT into force, the international community, especially Britain and France, which have ratified the treaty, must continue to press for ratification from other states. Ratification by Russia and China would still be of great benefit to the regime even though U.S. participation will be delayed until at least 2001. The recent Vienna conference of ratifying states was impressive in its unanimity and in the strength of its conclusions. The final document exhorted states that have not yet signed or ratified the treaty to do so and to "refrain from acts which would defeat its object and purpose in the meanwhile." (See document.) Such diplomatic pressure must be continued.

3. UN Security Council resolution.

On June 6, 1998 the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1172, which condemned the May 1998 tests. The resolution demanded inter alia "that India and Pakistan refrain from further nuclear tests" and called "upon all States not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion in accordance with the provisions of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty." It also expressed the Security Council's "readiness to consider further how best to ensure the implementation of the present resolution." If faced by India and Pakistan's continued resistance to CTBT signature, and given their disregard for most of the demands made in Resolution 1172, the Security Council could justifiably revisit the issue with a view to drawing up a fresh resolution. The U.S. Senate's rejection of the treaty would not preclude participation in such a resolution. Indeed, this could serve as an opportunity for the U.S. government to demonstrate that the rejection was a matter of domestic disagreement rather than a statement of U.S. foreign policy.

4. Intergovernmental discussions on responses to a resumption of testing.

Discussions could be initiated among the Security Council's five permanent members, Group of Eight, Task Force, NAM, the European Union and other groupings of states on the appropriate responses to a renewal of testing by any state. In those discussions, special consideration might be given to focusing punitive actions on the state that is the first to resume testing.

5. Surveillance.

Surveillance of potential test sites in India and Pakistan could be stepped up, with results being widely shared by governments and published where appropriate.

The Impact of Recent Events

The U.S. Senate's rejection of the CTBT was a severe blow to arms control, weakening the international community's ability to exert pressure on India and Pakistan to join the CTBT. Paradoxically, however, the Senate's rejection, combined with the domestic political developments in Pakistan and India, may have eased the pressures on both governments to resume testing—at least in the short term. If there is any good to be found in the Senate's self-defeating action, it may be that it has opened a narrow window of opportunity in which the Indian and Pakistani governments may find it politically easier to solidify their commitment to the testing moratorium.

Following the U.S. Senate's vote, there was an audible sigh of relief in New Delhi. A number of politicians and journalists referred to India being "off the hook" in regard to the treaty. Insofar as the Indian tests of May 1998 were symbolic gestures against the CTBT and the non-proliferation regime, reflections of India's desire to overcome foreign perceptions of its secondary international status, and acts of defiance that helped strengthen the BJP as it tried to secure its position in government, the recent events have lessened the political—if not the military—incentives for resuming testing. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the BJP are riding high after the "victories" in Kashmir and in the national elections. India is feeling more self-confident than at any time in recent years (partly due to improved economic fortunes), and the CTBT pressures have been eased by the U.S. Senate's actions. In domestic terms, there is therefore not much to be gained by a return to testing.

The Indian government can also now claim that it was right all along in its complaints about U.S. behavior. What is more, it can portray itself in contrast to the United States as a responsible power that is exercising restraint, a power whose leadership has command over the conduct and development of policy at home. Some of the perceived stigma attached to being a nuclear power outside the NPT may also have been reduced, along with the yearning for formal recognition as a nuclear-weapon state. If it wishes, India can now present itself within the non-aligned movement and more widely as the true friend of international security. Further testing would destroy this diplomatic advantage.

The possibility that Pakistan will decide to test again unilaterally cannot be ruled out—its insecurity is quite profound—but the political and economic risks to Pakistan of testing before India are so great that it is unlikely to be the first mover. The new military government's international legitimacy is so slight that it can ill afford to embark on such a provocative course. There is even an opportunity to link international recognition of the military government inter alia to Pakistan's signature of the CTBT. While that may still be difficult to secure because of Pakistan's domestic politics, it should be possible to bind Pakistan to its testing moratorium for the time being.

The Need for Restraint

These observations seem to offer grounds for cautious optimism. The CTBT vote and other events may have temporarily eased pressures to test. This situation presents a window of opportunity in which the governments of India and Pakistan could choose to adopt a less aggressive nuclear posture and formalize their current moratoria by signing the CTBT. It is a chance for them to demonstrate that they are responsible nuclear powers.

Unfortunately, this situation could easily change for the worse in the volatile politics of South Asia. The situation in Pakistan has yet to stabilize, and in India the length of the current opportunity rests especially upon the stability and good sense of the current coalition government and upon Prime Minister Vajpayee's hold over the Indian body politic. The moratoria are therefore insufficient: governments inside and outside South Asia need to take advantage of today's favorable wind to embed the restraint on testing.

Even after the May 1998 tests, India has had the option of playing a vital and prestigious part in lessening the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. This has not required India to join the NPT, nor to commit itself in advance to its own disarmament. What it has required is a desire to work with others rather than against them. This opportunity now presents itself. Constructive engagement on India's part would be greatly welcomed by the international community, not because it would indicate any capitulation on India's part, but because it would bring some hope back into nuclear politics.

The international community seems increasingly prepared to accept, although not to recognize formally, that India is a nuclear power. What it cannot accept is an open-ended pursuit of nuclear arms by India or any other state. The Draft Report emphasizes that India is motivated by a desire to defend itself against hostile states. That is fair enough. The trouble with this draft doctrine is that it provides no indication of the limits of Indian ambition. Among other things, it provides no reference to the arms control measures and processes through which India could demonstrate its willingness to apply limits.

Therefore, when the Indian government revisits the draft doctrine as it said that it would do after the election, it should devote particular attention to those parts of the doctrine that affect international confidence that India is indeed committed to establishing a defensive, minimum deterrent.<13> This includes fleshing out the section on disarmament and arms control and providing assurances that an intention to "step up efforts in research and development" and to resist "any restraints on building its R&D capability" will not lead to a resumption of explosive testing.

A broad observation can be made in conclusion. Since the end of the Cold War, contraction has been the dominant trend in nuclear armament. Although most evident in the sharp reduction in numbers of deployed weapons, it has also involved the shrinkage of the industrial and technological infrastructures that sustained the nuclear arms race.

This trend is today being threatened by a revival of the prestige of nuclear weapons in international politics and by expansionist technological programs and proposals in a number of states, including the missile defense proposals in the United States. The question that all governments have to face is how to restrain this trend, how to formalize and exhibit that restraint, how to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate developmental activities, and how to defend the gains of past years and decades so that the arms-reducing and disarmament trend can reassert itself when the international climate improves.

In periods like this, all states—especially the nuclear-weapon powers and in particular the United States—have a special responsibility to set limits on their national ambitions and make those limits transparent to other states and to their own people. Treaties that help to define those limits and that express universal norms may become fragile instruments, but they acquire even greater importance in such difficult times. All states need to exercise restraint, to turn a deaf ear to zealots and to defend arms control to prevent a more serious deterioration of international security.


NOTES

1. Paragraph 4 of the Lahore Declaration states, "The two sides shall continue to abide by their respective unilateral moratorium on conducting further explosions unless either side, in exercise of its national sovereignty decides that extraordinary events jeopardised its supreme interests."

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2. Information on and assessments of the Indian and Pakistani tests can be found in the Joint Statement by Department of Atomic Energy and Defence Research and Development Organisation, 17 May 1998; Gregory van der Vink et al., "False Accusations, Undetected Tests and Implications for the CTB Treaty," Arms Control Today, May 1998; and "After the Tests: India and Pakistan Update," Natural Resources Defense Council Notebook, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September/October 1998. A more recent summary of U.S. technical assessments (mainly skeptical) of the tests is provided by Mark Hibbs, "India exaggerated test yields, US earth scientists conclude," Nucleonics Week, 10 June 1999.

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3. Article I of the NPT affirms that "Each nuclear weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes…not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear weapon state to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."

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4. See Thomas Cochran and Christopher Paine, The Role of Hydronuclear Tests and Other Low-Yield Nuclear Explosions and Their Status Under a Comprehensive Test Ban, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C., March 1995. On recent developments, see Christopher Paine, "A Case against Virtual Nuclear Testing," Scientific American, September 1999.

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5. The "Joint Statement by Department of Atomic Energy and Defence Research Development Organisation" issued in New Delhi on May 17, 1998 noted that "the tests…have provided critical data for the validation of our capability in the design of nuclear weapons of different yields for different applications and different delivery systems. These tests have significantly enhanced our capability in computer simulation of new designs and taken us to the stage of sub-critical experiments in the future."

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6. Article IX.3 of the NPT stands in the way of India's recognition as a nuclear-weapon state with the legal rights afforded to the states that had "manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to January 1, 1967."

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7. "Draft Report of National Security Advisory Board on Indian Nuclear Doctrine," New Delhi, 17 August 1999, paragraph 3.1. See Arms Control Today, July/August 1999 for the full text.

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8. Brahma Chellaney, "India, too, has a right to credible nuclear deterrence," International Herald Tribune, 1 September 1999. Chellaney was a member of the group that drew up the Draft Report.

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9. T. Jayaraman, "Questions about capabilities," Frontline, 11-24 September 1999.

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10. The amateurism is evident inter alia in the careless way in which negative security assurances are discussed. Paragraph 2.5 of the Draft Report asserts that "India will not resort to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against States which do not possess nuclear weapons, or who are not aligned with nuclear weapon powers." This language would allow India to make nuclear threats against European NNWS belonging to NATO, against Japan and against a number of other NPT NNWS.

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11. W. Walker, Nuclear Entrapment: THORP and the Politics of Commitment (London: Institute for Public Policy Research, October 1999), p.162.

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12. Proposed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, negotiation of the FMCT has yet to start in the Conference on Disarmament, partly because of Indian and Pakistani obstruction.

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13. In the Opening Remarks by National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra at the Release of the Draft Indian Nuclear Doctrine, Mishra noted that "this is a draft proposed by the NSAB and has not yet been approved by the Government. That will have to wait until after the general elections."

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William Walker is professor of international relations at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. [Back to top]