CBC Digital Archives

India joins the nuclear club

India is the world's largest democracy and its second most populous, but for decades its image was mainly that of a poor nation with a rich history. Shaken by periodic religious strife and still largely a rural and agricultural country, India has nevertheless emerged in the new millennium as an increasingly important global player. From its colonial origins to the bright lights of Bollywood, CBC Digital Archives presents a collection of clips about India past and present.

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In a remote region of India, deep beneath the desert, a series of underground explosions in May 1998 herald India's entry into the select group of countries who possess nuclear weapons. Indians are proud of their nation's achievement, but in Canada and the United States the reaction is outright condemnation. In this CBC-TV clip, Pakistan's leader, Benazir Bhutto, says her it may be her country's turn next
• The nuclear tests came just two months after the BJP, a nationalist Hindu party, gained power in India. The main opposition party made no protest about the testing, even though it had blocked such tests the year before when it held power.
  • India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a United Nations agreement that designates five official nuclear powers (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) while pledging to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries. Since it was founded in 1968, 191 states have signed on. Israel and Pakistan have also declined to sign the treaty, and North Korea withdrew from it in 2003.

• Two weeks after India's test, Pakistan responded with several underground nuclear tests of its own. In protest, the United States imposed a set of economic sanctions identical to those it announced after India's nuclear test. ''I cannot believe,'' said U.S. president Bill Clinton, ''that we are about to start the 21st century by having the Indian subcontinent repeat the worst mistakes of the 20th century, when we know it is not necessary to peace, to security, to prosperity, to national greatness or to personal fulfillment.''  

Program: The National
Broadcast Date: May 13, 1998
Guest(s): Benazir Bhutto, Swapan Das Gupta, Milton Israel
Host: Hana Gartner
Reporter: Paul Hunter
Duration: 11:19

Last updated: February 3, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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