South Asia is a region with growing political, economic and strategic significance. The bitter rivalry between India and Pakistan, which dates to the partitioning of the subcontinent in 1947, remains the impetus behind the proliferation of nuclear weapons and missiles in the region.
Nuclear issues in South Asia focus on the policies of India and Pakistan. Both, India and Pakistan had nuclear programmes to facilitate the process of development in these countries. These civilian programmes became the basis of the technological capability to move from a purely civilian programme to a weapons option. India exploded its first nuclear device at Pokhran on May 12,1974. This was the first demonstration of nuclear weapons capability.
Pakistan had also started to move towards a nuclear weapons option in the 1970s. It is with the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan in 1998 that both the countries formally announced their nuclear weapons capability. Today, both India and Pakistan maintain active nuclear and missile programmes, and both are producing fissile materials for nuclear weapons.
Neither country has signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), although they adhere to self-imposed moratoriums on nuclear tests. The security dynamics of the region are complicated further by India’s perception of China as a threat. Pakistan’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons and missile systems are intended to counter India’s substantial conventional military advantage and its perception of India’s nuclear threat.