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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

OUT OF THE CLOSET

Is India a nuclear nation?


Go to Main Story

Fallout: Tokyo and Washington vow sanctions against New Delhi

Mission Accomplished: The father of India's weapons program

INDIA'S NUCLEAR TESTS have given it what a government spokesman describes as "a credible nuclear deterrent." Does that mean it has officially joined the nuclear club? Or is India, along with Pakistan and Israel, still a "threshold" nuclear power?

According to Brahma Chellaney, a noted expert on nuclear and security issues at the Center for Policy Research in Delhi, "threshold" is not a technical term but an expression coined by analysts to describe countries that have successfully conducted weapons tests but have not declared themselves to be nuclear states. Pakistan and Israel fall in this category. India is the first "threshold country" to demonstrate its capability.

But why wasn't India included after conducting its first nuclear weapon test in 1974? Because, says Chellaney, that test was done with a crude fission device detonated without a warhead. The recent tests were done with devices involving "pure fission," "boosted fission" and "thermonuclear" (implying a hydrogen bomb) processes, which are on the cutting edge of nuclear technology.


This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home

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