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Tuesday, May 12, 1998 Published at 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK


India congratulates itself on nuclear tests
image: [ The Pioneer says India has arrived at superpower status 'with a bang' ]
The Pioneer says India has arrived at superpower status 'with a bang'

While there has been widespread international condemnation of India for conducting three underground nuclear tests on Monday, in India itself the tests have won the new Hindu nationalist-led government much praise. Our South Asia correspondent, Mike Wooldridge, reports:

There has been general support across the political spectrum here for the tests, which the BJP-led government will undoubtedly see as bolstering its claim that there is a wide national consensus around a tougher, pro-nuclear stand given the perceived threat from neighbours Pakistan and China.

The United Front, in government for the two years up to February's election, has called for a diplomatic offensive, but the new government will hardly need encouragement as it turns its attention now to trying to fend off not just American sanctions but the possibility of others imposed by nations that are important to India as trading partners and donors, particularly Japan.

There is speculation here that India will push a new willingness to play an active role in nuclear weapons control as a bait against the imposition of sanctions. There is little sign of dissent in the Indian media over the tests and their potential implications.

Comment ranges from the euphoric - the Pioneer newspaper speaks of an explosion of self-esteem and says India has arrived on the threshold of super-power status literally with a bang - to sober reflection in one paper that for all that they may be welcome, the tests might have opened up the prospect of a damaging arms race.

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