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The Making of a ‘Ship-to-Mouth’ Nuclear Power: The Johnson Administration and India’s Nuclear Tilt, 1964–1968


  • Jayita Sarkar


This article explores Lyndon B. Johnson administration’s nonproliferation policy toward India in light of China’s nuclear program. It argues that although the administration prioritized nonproliferation, it was unwilling to undertake the necessary steps to prevent an Indian pro-bomb decision. This was owing to downgrading South Asia as a United States (US) foreign policy priority at the time, and the shared belief within the administration that India will go nuclear anyway in the long run. At a time when the US–Indian diplomatic relations had reached a nadir and India’s regional security environment was highly precarious, Washington’s wait-and-watch policy proved counterproductive to its own nonproliferation goals. New Delhi demonstrated its tacit decision for the bomb with its 1968 refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and gravitated more toward Moscow.

Suggested Citation

  • Jayita Sarkar, 2014. "The Making of a ‘Ship-to-Mouth’ Nuclear Power: The Johnson Administration and India’s Nuclear Tilt, 1964–1968," Jadavpur Journal of International Relations, , vol. 18(1), pages 1-29, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jadint:v:18:y:2014:i:1:p:1-29

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