Today is the 7th anniversary of India's coming out into the open about its nuclear weapons program. On this day in 1998, India tested three nuclear devices in underground tests at Pokhran in the Rajasthan desert. A jubilant Prime Minister Vajpayee made the announcement that took the world by complete surprise, and caught the Americans off-guard. Ofcourse, it forced Pakistan to come out into the open with its own nuclear capability. While the nuclear option is a credible deterrent especially for the likes of China, there is debate whether it was worth coming clean with the capability. An article by Sanjoy Majumder of the BBC appeared on this day a couple of years ago on the five year anniversary of the tests. While I am not sure how seriously we are taken after the tests, the article does raise an important point:
Many in India argued that by going nuclear it had lost its conventional military edge over Pakistan.India has a committment to 'No First Use' of nuclear weapons. Pakistan on the other hand makes no such claims, and infact is not hesitant to play the nuclear card every time a conflict arises - all in the name of self-protection against big brother India with its superiority in conventional weapons. In 2001, when the Indians mobilized for war following the attack on the Parliament, Pakistan was at the forefront in raising the spectre of a nuclear war, since now it is a declared nuclear power. The world was forced to take notice and take frantic steps against the possibility of a nuclear holocaust on the subcontinent.
We all know what happened, but I guess Pakistan's belligerent posing on the basis of its nuclear capability is something India will have to deal with everytime a confrontational situation with Pakistan develops.