Pakistan Fires Back With Nuclear Tests

Pakistan has replied to India's recent round of nuclear tests with five underground explosions today in the desolate Chagai region in Baluchistan province barely 50 kilometers from the Iranian border. These tests--the first by the south Asian nation--come barely 2 weeks after India conducted its own series on 11 and 13 May.

The tests heighten the tension between the two countries, which have gone to war three times. Speaking on national television, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said "we have settled the score" with India, while Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared that the Pakistani tests "came as no surprise and have vindicated our nuclear stand."

The Pakistan Herald News Service says the devices were all fission bombs, and that three were less than a kiloton in force. The other two had yields of 12 and 25 kilotons, the service added. Reuters reports that the Australian Geological Organization registered Pakistan's nuclear tests as one explosion of 5 magnitude on the Richter scale. Sharif said that no radioactivity was released into the atmosphere, and that the yields were "as expected."

The news of the blasts came as the Indian Parliament was debating its own nuclear tests. Vajpayee told reporters "a new situation has been created and it will be taken into account in formulating our future policy" on nuclear testing. At the same time, Sharif declared a state of emergency in Pakistan because of the "hostile" actions of its neighbor.

Posted in Asia, Physics, Technology