Press Advisory
13 May 1998

US Nonproliferation Policy Failed as India Continues Tests

With today's nuclear tests, India has made clear that it now considers itself a fully-fledged nuclear power. The two nuclear explosions have destroyed doubts that the Indian government might simply have flexed military muscles to achieve short-term domestic or foreign policy aims. "The message is clear that people have a nuclear deterrent" as Brajesh Mishra, the Principle Secretary to the Indian Prime Minister had already stated after the three nuclear tests on Monday.

It is now very likely that Pakistan will be next in line to test nuclear devices. Such a move is consistent with the Indian perspective on nuclear weapons. As the Times of India had argued in an op-ed yesterday: "If Pakistan wants to conduct its own test let it do so. That should cause no undue concern in India. The world has to recognise now there are eight nuclear weapon states and that the world is no more unsafe than the one with five nuclear weapon powers who have been the most war prone in history."

The fact that India now considers itself a full member of the nuclear club highlights the failure of Western nonproliferation efforts. The United States has claimed international leadership in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. While a mixture of sticks and carrots could prevent North Korea from going nuclear, the same approach has obviously failed in South Asia. "If Pakistan and possibly Israel follow the Indian example and openly declare their nuclear capability would have to result in a reevaluation of the Western approach to nuclear weapons", says Oliver Meier, Senior Analyst at the Berlin Information Center for Transatlantic Security (BITS). "India shows that nuclear proliferation is a political problem not a military one."

"It is important now that the international community condemns the Indian behavior but isolating India would be counterproductive", says Otfried Nassauer, Director of BITS. "The old nuclear weapon states should try to carefully engage India to strengthen the nuclear disarmament aspects of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Non-Proliferation Treaty."

For further information please contact
Oliver Meier at +41-22-731 0812 or
Otfried Nassauer +49-30-441 0220
FAX +49-30-441 0221

BITS is an independent research institute working on Foreign and Security issues.