India’s Hindu nationalist-led government has in recent weeks accused China of building up nuclear weapons on the disputed border between the two countries, and accused Pakistan of “adventurism” after Islamabad recently tested medium-range missiles. The U.S. was today considering sanctions against India, and a presidential trip that once seemed like a welcome respite from scandal-plagued Washington is starting to look like a stroll through a nuclear minefield.
Bill Clinton had hoped to use his visits to India and Pakistan later this year to press the rival nations on nuclear nonproliferation; it may be a little late for that. India today tested three nuclear devices in contained underground explosions, and Pakistan immediately hinted that it might respond with tests of its own. “Pakistan has had difficulties developing a nuclear bomb, and has never tested one because of pressure from Washington,” says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. “Today’s news will certainly make it more difficult for us to stop them testing.”