I think that the US claim that they were taken by surprise by
India detonating nuclear arms is completely bullshit.
1) Ex-Ambassador to India Moynihan says that a plank in
ruling party's platform lays out a position against
non-proliferation, and speaking on the US intelligence
agencies said 'they should learn to read'.
2) A CIA report to Congress last year states that India
put off a test in 1995 because it would "significantly damage
its relations with foreign countries and undermine efforts to attract
foreign investment [WSJ]
So, what reason would the US government have to feign ignorance
and no advance warning? To send a clear message to China.
In March of 1996, lower level Chinese cabinet members made
the remarks picked up by various sources:
"Lower-level Chinese officials have threatened to attack Los
Angeles with nuclear warheads if Washington comes to Taiwan's
defence [sic] in case of a Chinese attack on the
nationalist-ruled island, Assistant Secretary of State Winston
Lord said Sunday.
"'Some Chinese lower-level officials told some visiting
American officials that we wouldn't dare defend Taiwan
because they'd rain nuclear bombs on Los Angeles,' Lord,
the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the
Pacific, said on C-Span cable television." (emphasis added)
(Agence France Presse, 3/18/96)
This gets even fuzzier in the following context. US over the past
2 years has given aid to China to develop it's space-based launch
vehicles. The Chinese, of course, incorporated this into their ICBM
program and now have upwards of 13 missiles targetted at US cities.
Further, in 1992, the US slapped limited sanctions on China
and Pakistan after concluding that China sold missile technology
to Pakistan in November of that year. Both China and Pakistan
have the ability to threaten US soil here and abroad with missiles.
You will remember, one of the issues that India felt they needed
to proceed with their tests was that Pakistan had successfully
launched a ground to ground missile with a 900 mile range.
I think a nuclear-enabled, strong India is an excellent and
necessary strategy for Asia given the Chinese track record since '92.
I would call on the US to lift whatever proposed economic sanctions
immediately, unless of course they are just using it as a bargaining
chip to leverage control over China and Pakistan.