July 25, 2024

India And Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Program: A Global Flashpoint

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By: Khushbu Ahlawat

Indian nuclear weapon westing: source Internet

Overview of India and Pakistan’s nuclear histories:

Zia Mian, Co-Director of the program on science global security at Princeton University, said that the idea in Pakistan of acquiring nuclear weapons began in the     early 1950s when Pak signed a military alliance agreement with the US as part of which Pakistan became an ally of the US in the cold war against USSR and in return the US was to provide economic aid and military advice to bring Pakistan into the modern age weaponry systems.

In this way, the US plotted the modern American idea of nuclear technology, i.e., nuclear weapons in warfare. Raj Chengappa, the Editorial Director of the India Today group, Jayita Sarkarv, and Feroz Khan, who is the Director of Arms Control and Disarmament affairs, said that in 1964, China tested nuclear weapons, and in the 1965 Indo-Pak War when China sided with Pakistan, this compelled India to move         forward with its nuclear weapons program.

Thus, two nuclear neighbors i.e., China         and Pakistan compelled India to develop nuclear weapons in order to ensure security. The strong debate started that India was building weapons, and Homi J Bhabha was very active about this. But the Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was against nuclear weapons. Basically, India saw nuclear weapons as a limited but necessary capability to protect itself. Atomic Energy Commission in India was established as the regulatory body under Homi J Bhabha.

In 1963, PTBT was ratified by India which stated that complete prohibition of nuclear testing in underwater, atmosphere  and outer space.

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1953 “Atoms for Peace” address suggested the creation of an international atomic regulatory organization. Hence, IAEA was created in 1957. The organisation’s primary goal was to encourage nuclear technologies’ safe, secure, and non-militaristic use.

The NPT came into force in 1970 to promote the peaceful benefits of nuclear energy, advance nuclear disarmament, and stop the spread of atomic weapons and technology. Provisions of NPT were:

  • Nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states were the two groups defined under the treaty.
  • NWS will not increase their nuclear arsenals and would move towards gradual disarmament.

Neither India nor Pakistan joined the NPT as they said that it was a discriminatory treaty which divided the world into Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) and Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS).

In 1969, Indira Gandhi ordered to go ahead with nuclear weapons, and in 1971 the India-Pakistan war occurred and Bangladesh was created. India detonated its first nuclear  weapon on May 18, 1974 in what it referred to as a “peaceful nuclear explosion,” also called Smiling Budha which included use of Plutonium. The nuclear test was conducted in Pokhran, Rajasthan. The United States provided the heavy water required to generate the plutonium utilised in the experiment, and Canada provided the CIRUS Reactor.

This triggered anger in Pakistan. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto always dreamed of increasing bombs in Pakistan, and after the defeat of Pak in 1971, he wanted to turn his dream into reality. Pakistan criticised New Delhi for trying to distinguish between military and non-military applications of a nuclear test. Pakistan began developing nuclear weapons in response to its 1971 war with India. India’s test of nuclear weapons was also a wake-up call for the International Community, which compelled them to take non-proliferation more seriously. Later, The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was founded by the international community in November 1974 due to India’s peaceful nuclear explosion.



In 1998, the BJP government in India decided to conduct a series of nuclear tests in Rajasthan specifically; most were believed to be militarised. India has been working on their nuclear arsenals, and now they needed to be tested. This is why India condemned the CTBT treaty because this treaty aimed to keep nuclear arsenals for NWS and banned to acquire weapons for NNWS. India believed that the Soviet Union and the United States were no longer required to test their arsenals to prove their reliability because they had already done a lot. It was said that India’s nuclear test in 1998 was against CTBT, but legally India never signed CTBT. Agni-I, Prithvi-II, Agni-III, Agni-V, Agni-V, and Prahar were the names of the nuclear tests, Mansoor Ahmed, Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard University, said that Pakistan conducted five nuclear explosions in the underground Tusko hills in Western Baluchistan and Kharan in 1998. These tests were in response to India’s test in Rajasthan in 1998. Abdali ballistic missile, Ghaznavi and Shaheen-I, Shaheen-II and Shaheen-III were some names of the tests. At the international forum, it was argued that deterrence capability would be compromised if Pakistan conducted another test.

At that moment, the immediate concern was to avert dangerous arms competition and to stop the zero-sum game. When the US started to engage with both nations, the basic objective was to restrain weapons and missile delivery programs. The nuclear tests conducted by India were another down because of fear of sanctions


On October 1, 2008, the Indo-U.S. civil nuclear agreement became official. The agreement allowed India to conduct nuclear trade with the United States and other Nuclear Suppliers Group members. In exchange for access to American dual-use nuclear technology, it also promised to allow American businesses to construct nuclear reactors in India. Pakistan objected to the agreement, saying that Pakistan likewise deserved an NSG waiver because India was given preferential treatment. Pakistan increased its production of fissile material in response to the agreement.


According to the Nuclear Weapons Convention, even today, India has nuclear weapons, but it continues to be at the forefront of disarmament efforts, so India’s nuclear ambivalence persists. Pakistan was clear and purposeful about weapons because they wanted to build in order to fight against stronger neighbors and wanted to establish a sense of deep identity as a regional power. This showed that Pakistan has a “FIRST USE POLICY”, “FULL SPECTRUM DETERRENCE,” and India has a “NO FIRST USE POLICY”, “MINIMUM DETERRENCE”, “CONVENTIONAL FIGHTING CAPABILITY”, “GLOBALLY VERIFIED NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT” AND “COMMAND AND CONTROL”.


In order to avoid war, tension, mistrust and establish peace and security, both sides must agree to ratify the agreement in order to not attract nuclear instillations. So, CBM and NRRM should be used in order to diffuse tensions, reduce nuclear wars. Non-Attack of Nuclear Facilities Agreement was signed by Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto in 1988 where they both pledged, not to  attack the listed nuclear facilities. Other Agreement on Prior Notification of military  exercises was signed in 1991, Ballistic Missile Flight-Test Pre-Notification Agreement was also signed in 2005. So, basically, both sides pledged to notify each other in the event of a nuclear accident.

About the Author

Khushbu Ahlawat is from Sonipat, Haryana and has done her graduation from Daulat Ram College, Delhi University in BA (Hons) Political Science. Currently she is pursuing Master of Arts in International studies at Christ University, Bengaluru. The views expressed are personal.


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Enregistrement à Binance

Your article helped me a lot, is there any more related content? Thanks!

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binance úcet
6 months ago

I don’t think the title of your article matches the content lol. Just kidding, mainly because I had some doubts after reading the article.

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