1998: Nuclear Weapons

"The Indian/Pakistan explosions have been called 'tests', but I believe it be more accurate to call them 'demonstrations,' more for political purposes than for scientific testing."

-- former U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair John W. Vessey, October 5, 1999

Throughout the 1990s, guerrilla warfare raged in Kashmir. In 1998, India and Pakistan raised the stakes by openly testing nuclear weapons.

Although "The Club" of nations possessing nuclear weapons was theoretically closed in the 1950s, India and Pakistan changed the rules of the game in 1998. (India actually conducted an earlier low-yield nuclear test, code-named "Smiling Buddha," in May 1974.) On May 11, 1998, India carried out a series of underground nuclear test explosions estimated at around 25 kilotons. On May 28, 1998, Pakistan conducted its own tests, estimated at below 15 kilotons.

While the explosions did have testing value, their main impact was India and Pakistan's signal to each other, and the world, that they had the capability and will to use nuclear weapons.

Next: War Clouds

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