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Possible, India resumes nuclear test?

16:58, April 26, 2011

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By Li Hongmei

In the international nuclear talks drama worked out by the U.S., it seems that only North Korea, who exits the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and Iran, who is suspected to be violating the Treaty, are respectively cast in the roles of the No.1 and No.2 negative characters. But the fact is that behind the scene there exists a super antagonist in the US-produced nuclear soap opera, and it is India.

India has so far refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a document signed in 1970 restricting the number of nuclear superpowers to five countries only – China, the USA, the USSR, Great Britain, and France.

India was not listed among those states: the nation conducted a first nuclear test in 1974. The reason why India refused to sign the NPT is that it disagreed with the fact that only five large countries of the world use the NPT to monopolize the right for possessing nuclear arms.

India has long been desperately trying to step over the threshold of nuclear, and gain the international recognition of being a nuclear power. In the conditioning of India, equipped with nuclear weapons, it would boost confidence in dealing with its rivaling neighbor, Pakistan, and pluck up courage to counteract China whom it has long taken as "a slumbering threat" at its bedside.

India has never dropped its dream to overtake China, growing up to be a leading regional, and global power, now that it has self-measured to be the world's No.3 military power.

Given this, India stunned the world after it conducted nuclear tests in the Rajasthan desert in 1998, and the lid of India's nuclear issue has since lifted open.

The tests, a showcase of India's national strength, were reciprocated by its traditional rival, Pakistan, and dramatically raised the stakes in the stand-off over Kashmir, one of the world's longest-running feuds.

It was a move that was bitterly criticized internationally as well as within the country.
Some in India argued that by going nuclear it had actually lost its conventional military edge over Pakistan. Others felt that the tests had opened the door to international, in particular, American intervention in Kashmir dispute, something which India has traditionally opposed.

But years later, it is still a moot point whether India lost more than it gained by going nuclear.

Increasingly, it appears that by self-claiming to have joined the nuclear club, India has forced the world to take it seriously. But, the 1998's "large step forward" to go nuclear has yet to make India feel more secure. Instead, the desperate move has indeed incurred the higher risk of being attacked upon India, and its national security would accordingly be downgraded.

Currently, the international situation seems delivering a pleasant message to India---if the sweeping unrest in the Middle East continues and the unpredictable war is prolonged in Libya, the world's attention and the US top concern will be shifted to the ongoing upheavals, neglecting the Sub-continent.

And perhaps, once the Middle East situation further exacerbates, the US would risk helping India become a nuclear-weapon state. Considering this, India is likely to resume its nuclear tests. For this, China and all the neighbors should sharpen their vigilance on India's every maneuver.

The articles in this column represent the author's views only. They do not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.

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About this column

Li Hongmei, editor and columnist of PD Online.


Li HongLi Hong

After 19 years working for China Daily and its website, Li Hong moved to english.people.com.cn in March 2009.

Li has been a reporter and column writer, mainly on China's economy and politics.

He was graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and once studied in University of Hawaii and the Poynter Institute in Florida.

Dai MinJohn
Dai Min

John Milligan-Whyte and Dai Min, the executive producers and co-hosts of the Collaboration of Civilizations television series adapted by the eight books they wrote in the America-China Partnership Book Series published in English and Mandarin in 2009-2010 that created the "New School of America-China Relations." They founded the America-China Partnership Foundation and Forum in 2008 and the Center for American-China Partnership in 2005, which was recognized in 2009 as "the first American think tank to combine and integrate American and Chinese perspectives providing a complete answer for America and China's success in the 21st century."