India Plans Nuke Buildup

  • Share
  • Read Later
NEW DELHI: You’re elected to lead a fragile minority coalition government, expecting your tenure will be nasty, brutish and short. What to do? Go nuclear, of course. Hindu nationalist Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in today as prime minister and restated his election promise to “exercise the option to induct nuclear weapons” into India’s arsenal.

India’s arch-foe, neighboring Pakistan, immediately warned that it would match any Indian escalation. “Both countries are believed to have the capacity to build nuclear weapons,” says TIME New Delhi bureau chief Tim McGirk, “but Vajpayee is now saying India should proceed with building warheads for its missiles.”

The improbable upsurge of Indian nuclear threats is more about domestic political grandstanding than the state of relations with Pakistan, says McGirk, “and they’re not likely to risk international condemnation by taking this path for at least the next few years.” Which is cause for relief, since few analysts believe Vajpayee’s government will last that long.