Pokhran 20 Years After: Did the World Change?

Dr. Harald Müller is Director of the Peace Research Institute, Frankfurt, and Professor of International Relations at Goethe University, Frankfurt. A member of the German delegation to the last three NPT Review Conferences, he served on the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters of the UN Secretary-General from 1999–2005. His two most recent books have been World Power India (2006, in German) and Building a New World Order: Sustainable Policies for the Future (2009, London, Haus Publishing).
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  • May 2018

    Was the 1998 Pokhran test a historical watershed as many contemporary observers believed? This article looks at its impact on the nuclear non-proliferation regime, regional security, India’s position in global institutions, and the ongoing global power shift: the non-proliferation regime continued along the old dispute lines; regional conflict behaviour did not change at all; India grew into global institutions not because of nuclear tests but because of her remarkable economic development; the re-arrangement of global power follows more basic trends as well. The only tangible effect of the Pokhran test was to change India’s exposition to nuclear blackmail from improbable to impossible, not unimportant but still marginal.