Page 1: 1998: Emerging nuclear armed states

1998: India and Pakistan conduct nuclear tests

India

In explaining its opposition to the CTBT, India stated that “It is a matter of regret that the text, as has finally emerged, does not do justice to the negotiating mandate. It is not a comprehensive ban but merely a ban on nuclear explosive testing. It also lacks a definitive commitment to nuclear disarmament”. However, Keith Hansen, part of the United States’ CTBT negotiating team, believed that India’s refusal to sign the CTBT reflected not only dissatisfaction with the Treaty, but also a desire to join the “Nuclear Club” of nuclear armed countries.

Pakistan

In 1995 and 1996, US satellites had detected activities at India’s nuclear testing site at Pokhran that analysts believed were preparations for a nuclear test. In 1998, after the election of a coalition government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India made the decision to proceed with nuclear weapon testing. According to Dr. Rebecca Johnson, Executive Director of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, the BJP used nuclear testing as “part of a strategy to press for India to be accorded the international status and recognition it would like”.

India conducted two underground nuclear tests, code-named “Shakti ‘98”, on 11 and 13 May 1998. On 28 and 30 May 1998, Pakistan responded by conducting two nuclear tests of its own.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee made the decision to proceed with nuclear weapon testing.

In an official press statement issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi announced that “India has a proven capability for a weaponised nuclear programme” and that the tests “provide reassurance to the people of India that their national security interests are paramount and will be promoted and protected”.

India conducted two sets of underground nuclear tests, codenamed “Shakti ‘98”, on 11 and 13 May 1998. The first set included a fission device, a low-yield device and a thermonuclear weapon which, according to Indian officials, produced a 43-kiloton yield. India gained its nuclear capabilities from programmes such as “Atoms for Peace” that supplied nuclear material and technology to countries provided they did not pursue nuclear weapons.