The politics of nuclear force building

Authored by: Bhumitra Chakma

Handbook of Nuclear Proliferation

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  February  2012

Print ISBN: 9781857436044
eBook ISBN: 9780203840849
Adobe ISBN:


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The Pakistani Government launched a nuclear power programme in the mid-1950s. At the time of launching, there was no evidence that it intended to build nuclear weapons. In the 1960s, however, the Pakistani attitude towards nuclear weapons was modified slightly and the country adopted a ‘nuclear option’ policy, which meant that it reserved the choice to build nuclear weapons in the future. The adoption of a nuclear option policy was manifested in Pakistan’s decision not to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968. Of course, the decision not to sign the NPT was taken in reaction to a similar decision made by India. In the early 1970s, Pakistan initiated a clandestine nuclear weapons programme and by the late 1980s it had acquired the capability to build nuclear weapons. The programme eventually culminated in the May 1998 open nuclear tests, which transformed Pakistan’s nuclear identity from that of an opaque proliferator to an overt de facto nuclear weapons state. 1

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