India and Pakistan have in recent days both carried out tests of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.[1] The tests are in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1172.

Following the May 1998 nuclear weapons tests by India and Pakistan, an indignant Security Council reflected the global mood when it unanimously passed Resolution 1172 (June 6, 1998) condemning the tests, demanding "that India and Pakistan refrain from further nuclear tests" and called upon "India and Pakistan immediately to stop their nuclear weapon development programmes, to refrain from weaponization or from the deployment of nuclear weapons, to cease development of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons [emphasis added] and any further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons."

The resolution also "requests the Secretary-General to report urgently to the Council on the steps taken by India and Pakistan to implement the present resolution." The Secretary-General has yet to report back to the Security Council on the matter, and it would be correct to conclude that no implementation steps have been taken.

Coincidentally, while the Indians and Pakistanis were testing their ballistic missiles in definace of the Security Council, the US Senate voted to support proposals by the Bush Administration to enter into civilian nuclear cooperation arrangements with India - arrangements that accept and actually welcome India as a de facto nuclear weapons state, facilitate the further production within India of fissile materials for weapons purposes, and ignore India's refusal to sign, much less ratify, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

In contrast, Washington and the Security Council have been following Iran 's civilian uranium enrichment program with unwavering vigilance. While India's actual acquisition of nuclear weapons has the White House in search of ways to accommodate it, Iran 's uncertain and future pursuit of a weapons capability is met with a full-court press of diplomacy and Pentagon planning for pre-emptive attack. It would be wrong to treat Iran's uranium enrichment capability as fully benign, but it is also worth remembering that to date there is no conclusive evidence that a nuclear weapons program is Iran 's real goal.[2]

What drives Washington these days is selective non-proliferation - the issue isn't the spread of nuclear weapons, but who is getting them. In the hands of the friends of the United States, and currently Israel, India, and Pakistan all fit into that category, nuclear weapons are not seen as a danger. Not all agree, however - notably, Hans Blix and his commission on weapons of mass destruction urge the world to hold fast to non-proliferation principles and "reject the suggestion that nuclear weapons in the hands of some pose no threat, while in the hands of others they place the world in mortal jeopardy."[3] (p. 60)


[1] Archana Mishra, "India Test-Fires Nuclear-Capable Missile," The Associated Press, Nov. 19, 2006 [].

[2] Seymour M. Hersh, "Is a damaged Administration less likely6 to attack Iran , or more?, New Yorker, Nov. 27, 2006 [].

[3] Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission. 2006. Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms. Stockholm . (p. 60).

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