On May 28, 1998, Pakistan became a nuclear power when it successfully carried out five nuclear tests at Chaghi, in the province of Baluchistan. This was in direct response to five nuclear explosions by India, just two weeks earlier.
Widely criticized by the international community, Pakistan maintains that its nuclear program is for self-defense, as deterrence against nuclear India. A former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, offered justification for Pakistan’s nuclear program when he said that if India were to produce a bomb, Pakistan would do anything it could to get one of its own. It has always been maintained by Pakistan that a nuclear threat posed to its security can neither be met with conventional means of defense, nor by external security guarantees.
India had already posed a nuclear threat against Pakistan ever since it tested a nuclear device in May 1974. At that time Pakistan had no nuclear weapons. India maintained that its nuclear program was based on their requirement to have a minimum nuclear deterrence, and that it was not against any specific country.
After the tit-for-tat nuclear explosions, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution urging India and Pakistan to halt their nuclear weapons programs. The United States and other Western states imposed economic sanctions against both the countries. The U. N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, urged both the countries to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which Pakistan agreed to sign if India did the same.
After the tests, both sides declared that they had completed their series of nuclear testing and both announced a moratorium on future testing. Pakistan announced the moratorium on June 11, 1998, and offered to join in new peace talks with India. Even long before these tests, Pakistan has time and again proposed for a nuclear weapon-free zone in South East Asia.
This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003