(Updated January 3, 2007)
North Korea may have gotten all the attention, but all the nuclear weapon states were busy flight-testing ballistic missiles for their nuclear weapons during 2006. According to a preliminary count, eight countries launched more than 28 ballistic missiles of 23 types in 26 different events.
Unlike the failed North Korean Taepo Dong 2 launch, most other ballistic missile tests were successful. Russia and India also experienced missile failures, but the United States demonstrated a very reliable capability including the 117th consecutive successful launch of the Trident II D5 sea-launched ballistic missile.
The busy ballistic missile flight testing represents yet another double standard in international security, and suggests that initiatives are needed to limit not only proliferating countries from developing ballistic missiles but also find ways to curtail the programs of the existing nuclear powers.
On Monday, President Bush signed into law the Henry J. Hyde United States and India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act of 2006. The Federation of American Scientists strongly supports better ties—economic, cultural, technical, even security ties—with India. Specifically with energy production, there are many ways in which U.S. know-how could help India and the technology flow is not all one way, for example, India is, along with the United States, one of the world’s leaders in wind energy. But India made tacit acceptance of their nuclear weapons program the price of better relations. The Federation strongly opposed the nuclear deal because of the proliferation implications. We organized petitions to Congress. Thirty seven Nobel Prize winners from our Board of Sponsors signed a letter to the Congressional leadership opposing the agreement. We had a press conference where Michael Krepon and Len Weiss argued against the agreement and we released the Nobelist letter. In the end, however, the president and the Congress seem to have accepted the price set by India and here we are.