‘India wanted Pakistan to carry out nuclear test’
* India plans ‘deterrent … worthy of a major power’
By Khalid Hasan, Daily Times, May 10, 2008
WASHINGTON: The reason why India issued a thinly-veiled threat to Pakistan after its nuclear test in 1998 was to make sure that Pakistan follows suit so that India is not singled out for international pressure, according to a nuclear expert.
Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Centre, wrote in the journal, Arms Control: “When India finally decided to test, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Pakistan would also test. When New Delhi obliged on May 11 and 13, no inducements or penalties the United States and other capitals could identify were powerful enough to prevent Pakistan from following suit. Just to make sure that Pakistan would reject US offers and to prevent India from being singled out for international pressure, Advani issued a thinly veiled public threat to the effect that now that New Delhi possessed the bomb, its neighbour should watch its step in Kashmir. Pakistan tested its nuclear devices on May 28.”
Krepon writes that 10 years later, India and Pakistan still have not accepted any constraints on their strategic autonomy. Along with China, both states are engaged in strategic modernisation programmes of considerable breadth, building nuclear-tipped cruise missiles as well as ballistic missiles to be carried by their land, sea, and air forces.
Plans: India has plans for a deterrent it deems worthy of a major power, which might entail further tests to certify thermonuclear weapon designs. If India tests again, Pakistan is likely to do so as well. The nuclear enclaves in each county are highly respected at home and believe they have more work to do. This spells trouble not only for the CTBT, but also for initiating and successfully concluding fissile material cut-off negotiations in Geneva.
Kepon argues that while the CTBT remains in limbo, India and Pakistan have agreed to several confidence-building and nuclear risk-reduction measures, such as notifications regarding certain missile flight tests and military exercises. After a period of domestic turbulence in Pakistan, these discussions will resume, perhaps yielding more agreements that reduce the possibility of unintended escalation. Each country is focused on trade, economic development, and domestic cohesion, which suggest that the divided territory of Kashmir, which Pakistani officials used to describe as a “nuclear flashpoint,” will remain calm. These important gains are unlikely to be supplemented by constructive initiatives by India and Pakistan relating to nuclear negotiations.