India, the International System, and Nuclear Weapons

T. V. Paul
  • January 2002, Springer Science + Business Media
  • DOI: 10.1057/9780230109230_4

India, the International System, and Nuclear Weapons

Why is it important?

Most explanations for India’ nuclear behavior, especially the open tests in May 1998 emphasize one or more of three factors: the regional rivalries that India has with China and Pakistan, domestic politics, or the predispositions of individual decision makers. This chapter argues that although domestic factors may be associated with the timing of the 1998 tests, the overarching cause of India’ nuclear behavior needs to be located in systemic factors. Although India couches its challenge to the nonproliferation regime in normative and idealistic terms, these rationales mask the real Indian concern: Namely, the nonproliferation regime privileges the five declared nuclear weapon powers and perpetuates their dominance, while keeping India as an underdog in the global power hierarchy. The tests should be seen in the larger context of global power politics involving the great powers and India, especially the fact that the former remain unwilling to accept the latter to their ranks.

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