India’s Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today sought to alleviate the hangover from his own tests -- lost loans from the World Bank, stock market and currency slides and fierce criticism from the parliamentary opposition -- by offering Pakistan a “no-first-use” treaty. TIME New Delhi bureau chief Tim McGirk says Pakistan is unlikely to take that offer seriously right now. With neither the U.S. nor China giving Islamabad the security guarantees it has demanded, Langley’s analysts are left poring over satellite images of a nuclear test in preparation, even though they're unable to do anything to stop it from happening.
If you're planning a hike in west Pakistan's Chagai Hills, you may want to wear ear plugs. “Indications are that Pakistan has its nuclear test set up and ready to go, and they’re simply waiting for a government green light,” says TIME correspondent Douglas Waller. “Even though a Pakistani delegation is expected in Washington for talks early next week, intelligence sources expect that a test could be conducted within the next day or two.”