Monday, October 09, 2006

Revisiting India’s Rationale for Nuclear Development

Like the Saturday Night Live 10 timer’s club for hosts, a small but exclusive group of nations hold nuclear weapons capabilities. In 1998 India crashed the club uninvited, its neighbor Pakistan did likewise. What did India give as its rationale?

At the global level, there is no evidence yet on the part of the nuclear weapon states to take decisive and irreversible steps in moving towards a nuclear-weapon-free-world. Instead, the Non Proliferation Treaty has been extended indefinitely and unconditionally, perpetuating the existence of nuclear weapons in the hands of the five countries who are also permanent members of the UN Security Council. Some of these countries have doctrines that permit the first use of nuclear weapons; these countries are also engaged in programmes for modernisation of their nuclear arsenals.

How have things changed since 1998? Did any of the five countries in the U.N. Security Council give up their nuclear weapons? Did the United States, France, Russia, Britain, or China drop their nukes? Nope. While India and Pakistan officially crashed the gates of this exclusive club, Israel prefers to sit nearby in a large truck with the engine running. Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons capabilities but has never admitted such.

What about the rest of India’s reasoning, first use doctrine and modernizing nuclear weapons capabilities? The United States adopted pre-emption under the Bush administration and is yet to repeal this doctrine. America has an active program underway to modernize its nuclear warheads. In addition it is pursuing space weapons.

In eight years none of the causes of India’s development changed. What’s to keep other countries from watching and implanting a similar strategy? Seven years after conducting its own underground tests, the Bush administration inked a deal with India on nuclear technology.

What kind of deal will North Korea be looking for seven years from now? Will it be a sweetheart agreement like the one with India or a plea for cessation of violence and funds for rebuilding like Lebanon struck with Israel? From the Bush lingo it looks more like the later. President George hasn’t faced a provocative act he didn’t like…

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