India Brags About the Bomb

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NEW DELHI: In case you missed them, those five loud bangs earlier this week mean India has the bomb. And just to drive the point home, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said in an interview Friday that he has more than mere nuke tests up his sleeve. "We have a big bomb now," he said, "for which a necessary command and control system is also in place." Although Vajpayee didn't elaborate, that could mean India's missiles have been tipped with atomic warheads -- or the country's small submarine fleet has just gone nuclear.

"At this point, they've just decided to throw caution to the wind," says TIME New Delhi correspondent Tim McGirk of India's attempt to elbow its way into the nuclear club. "They're saying, 'Enough of this shilly-shallying around -- we've done the test, and we're going to build up our arsenal.'"

While such news is meant to impress the Big Five -- America, Russia, Britain, France and China -- it won't go down well in Islamabad, where Pakistan's parliament and cabinet are at loggerheads over whether to test their own device. "The Pakistanis are saying to the West: Try and stop us from doing this," says McGirk. Now that India has effectively broadcast its ability to wipe out their capital, stopping them just got a whole lot harder. Listen for more loud bangs soon.