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Last May Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee authorized a series of nuclear tests beneath the desert sands of Rajasthan. While the aftershocks were still registering on seismographs around the world, he proclaimed India a nuclear-weapons state. Fifteen days later, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, claiming he had no choice but to match an adversarial neighbor, ordered Pakistan's own series of tests in the Chagai Hills of Baluchistan and declared that his country, too, had nuclear arms.

The tests spurred immediate global condemnation. In all, 152 nations—large and small, developed and developing—voiced their opposition. So did numerous international organizations, including the G-8 major industrialized democracies, the Regional Forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Organization of American States, the Nordic Council of Ministers, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. They all saw the tests as a double setback: for peace in South Asia and for international efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and control dangerous technology.

The consequences for American policy toward South Asia were also severe. The explosions derailed an initiative by the United States to put its relations with both India and Pakistan on sounder footing. The relationship between the United States

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