In the end, I keep coming back to the question of how you know a weapon works if you cannot test it. (Or, for that matter, how testing ever established reliability since it destroyed the object whose reliability it demonstrated.) Who am I to question the judgment of the physicists who have spent decades honing their expert knowledge of this arcane field? Still, I keep thinking of a conversation I had in 1995 with a senior weapons designer, now retired, who told me that an inexperienced designer with a code is like a drunk driver, wrongly convinced of their excellent judgment. And I cannot help but notice a 2012 Department of Energy report complaining that National Ignition Facility shots were not producing the energy levels predicted by simulation codes. Nor, in 2015, has the National Ignition Facility met its former director’s prediction of reaching ignition—getting more energy out than was put in—by late 2012.
Why did India and Pakistan test nuclear weapons in May 1998, and how did the United States and the international community respond?
How did the United States engage with India and Pakistan post-1998?
Within eight months of the nuclear tests, Pakistan, under General Pervez Musharraf, infiltrated military units into the Kargil sector of Indian-administered Kashmir. In May 1999, when these units were discovered, any negotiations towards the signing of the CTBT took a back seat to U.S. crisis management efforts to prevent a nuclear war over Kashmir. After 9/11, the United States’ strategic priorities in South Asia shifted, as it sought Pakistani help to fight the “war on terror.” As a result, any remaining sanctions were lifted in September 2001.
A slightly older article, but pertinent to our times. As the writer rightly says, we should probably start worrying about the bomb again.
The possibility of a nuclear weapon being used in anger for the first time since 1945 is still, mercifully, extremely remote. But in 2017 the chances of it happening can no longer be discounted entirely. The inconvenient truth is that nuclear weapons are a greater danger now than at any time since the end of the cold war. The risks—from geopolitical miscalculation or from rogue actors, whether a state or terrorists—today exceed those of the late 20th century.