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Day 3 – Q 3.The nuclear tests conducted at Pokhran in 1998 helped to get the global high table to make space for India. Do you agree? Critically comment.

3. The nuclear tests conducted at Pokhran in 1998 helped to get the global high table to make space for India. Do you agree? Critically comment.

1998 में पोखरण में किए गए परमाणु परीक्षणों ने भारत को वैश्विक उच्च मंच पर साख बनाने में मदद की। क्या आप सहमत हैं? आलोचनात्मक टिप्पणी करें।


Nuclear test conducted in 1998 is one of the great mile stone in the India’s scientific timeline and with this India showcased its nuclear power and modified its terms with other states accordingly. This test is a turning point in India’s engagement with the world which was long overdue.


India had three main objectives behind the testing of 1998:

  • First was to validate new designs to ensure the credibility of the nuclear deterrent as the data set from the 1974 test was limited.
  • Second was to declare that India was now a nuclear weapon state and modify the terms of our engagement with other states accordingly.
  • Third was to generate an acceptance of India as a responsible state with an impeccable non- proliferation record.

Given its adverse security environment in the early 1990s, India’s pursuit of nuclear weapons as a deterrent against Chinese and Pakistani adventurism would have appeared not only wise but necessary.

Pakistan, initially accused India for arms race in sub-continent, also immediately conducted the nuclear test. India, unlike Pakistan, separated its civil and military programs and put a nuclear doctrine in place.

The Pokhran test brought immediate international condemnation from a world that has officially scorned nuclear testing since 1996 by endorsing Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits all nuclear tests.

The immediate global reaction started with the US and it imposed few sanctioned on India but with diplomatic conversation between two countries provided the basis for reconciliation with the global nuclear order, and redefined our relationship with the US.

The 1998 nuclear tests began the process for the world to acknowledge India as a responsible nuclear power. India had remained true to the highest NPT standards despite being an NPT outlier. While harmonising itself with the global nuclear order, the tests and their aftermath ironically destroyed the prevalent ‘nuclear superstructure’.

Apart from these the major achievements which India made on global level are as follows:

  • India-US civil nuclear deal i.e. 123 Agreement, which assured full civil nuclear cooperation of US with India.
  • Waivers from the NSG.
  • Membership of three of four global non-proliferation regimes i.e. Australia Group (AG), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and Wassenaar Arrangement (WA)
  • Nuclear deals with Japan
  • Multi countries on board to favour India’s entry into NSG, except China.


Tests created one of the pre-requisites for India’s aspiration to become a leading power. Tests were needed to end India’s international isolation. The actions we took 20 years ago ensured our national security. Our responsible record and subsequent engagements ensured global understanding of our policies. That is also shown by our nuclear collaborations around the world. The world had got used to a certain kind of India. That was challenged, successfully.

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