India's Nuclear Limbo and the Fatalism of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime, 1974–1983

Jayita Sarkar is Albert Gallatin Fellow at Yale University’s Macmillan Center for International and Area Studies, and PhD candidate in the Department of International History at the Graduate Institute Geneva.
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  • May 2013

    India's relationship with the nuclear non-proliferation regime deteriorated sharply after its 1974 underground nuclear test which, according to India, was a peaceful nuclear explosion, but which was not accepted as such by the regime. That it did not follow up with immediate weaponisation challenged the core logic of the non-proliferation regime which operates on a Murphy's Law of ‘nuclear fatalism’, i.e. if a country has the know-how to produce nuclear weapons, it will certainly produce them. This article argues that at least until the beginning of its integrated guided missile development programme in 1983, India's nuclear inaction posed a normative challenge to this logic.