India’s Nuclear Moratorium

Jeffrey Lewis of Arms Control Wonk reads the tea leaves and wonders whether India won’t try to use the 123 Agreement (if it’s ever approved) as license for a new round of nuclear weapons testing. There’s reason to believe that India’s last round of tests in 1998 did not include a successfully detonated hydrogen bomb. Lewis speculates that Indian PM Manmohan Singh might be under pressure to fill that technological gap.

It’s hard to imagine exactly what regional consequences that would have, but I think it’s safe to say there aren’t very many positive ones in the range of possibilities. India’s relations with both of its nuclear neighbors are perhaps better than ever before, but still brittle. With Pakistan, it’s been engaged in tit-for-tat test launches of intermediate-range cruise missiles; with China, it still has an unresolved border dispute.

On the other hand, an Indian nuclear test is probably AQ Khan’s best chance of being released from house arrest and getting back to work.

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