In This Review

India's Nuclear Bomb: The Impact on Global Proliferation
India's Nuclear Bomb: The Impact on Global Proliferation
By George Perkovich
University of California Press, 1999, 597 pp

An extraordinary and perhaps definitive account of 50 years of Indian nuclear policymaking. For all of Nehru's moralizing about the bomb's evils, Perkovich writes, he started India down the nuclear road when he founded the Indian Atomic Research Center. Indian scientists soon became a self-motivated force for the bomb, while the West's arguments for nonproliferation only stimulated India's desire to become a nuclear power. Perkovich shows that the Indian decision to build the bomb did not respond to external security threats but to the domestic Indian need to assert its national identity, break from its colonial legacy, and become the great power that it felt it should rightfully be -- a complex mix of domestic and psychological factors. Although the study tells more about domestic Indian affairs than most international relations generalists will want, it should be taken seriously by all concerned with proliferation. With painful clarity, it exposes the false illusions that have limited the effectiveness of proliferation opponents.