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Mushroom Cloud of Unreason

If India's testing of nuclear weapons is dangerous, the recklessness of its politicians and the coarsening of public debate on the issue are more dangerous. And still worse are experts who advocate signing the CTBT on the ground that it would legitimise India's nuclear status.

Pakistan is threatening a nuclear war, but do they even know what it means? They think that they will drop one bomb and they’ll win and we’ll lose. This won’t happen. We said we won’t be the first to use nuclear weapons, but if anyone uses them against us, anyone threatens us, we will not wait for our annihilation...We are prepared for any eventuality.
– Atal Behari Vajpayee, Jalandhar, February 6, 2000.

Te mood prevailing in Year Two of India’s own post-Pokhran II nuclear age is one of increasing recklessness and hardening of the official nuclear posture amidst a further coarsening of our public discourse. Thus, New Delhi has emerged as a staunch and rabid opponent of all nuclear restraint measures whether bilateral and regional or multilateral, and increasingly casually resorts to nuclear threat-mongering especially vis-a-vis Pakistan as it gets locked into the most hostile phase of bilateral relations with the neighbour in peacetime. And there is little recognition in our public space, in particular the media, of the growing nuclear danger in south Asia – easily the world’s most volatile region with an uninterrupted and unique half century-long hot-cold war which shows no signs of abating.

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