Tensions in the Korean Peninsula are escalating as North Korea continues to conduct intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests and threaten the interests of the United States and its allies in the region. The US and its allies, in turn, have stepped up their efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. At the same time, India, a frontline state in the United States grand strategy of containing China, has emerged as an active contributor in the US-led global efforts to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. India sees the DPRK’s nuclear crisis as an opportunity to project itself as a staunch opponent of nuclear proliferation and a responsible nuclear power in the world. However, its strategic designs combined with conventional and nuclear pursuance have proved it as a highly irresponsible country, with a dichotomous role at regional as well as global levels. On the one hand, India has presented itself as a potential country to contribute to the denuclearization of North Korea and bring peace and stability to the Korean Peninsula. On the other hand, it seeks to acquire western modern technology so as to enhance its nuclear stockpile, and attempts to create a strategic imbalance in the region.
In recent years, New Delhi has played a larger role in the US-led global efforts to halt North Korea’s nuclear program. In 2017, the Indian government condemned the ICBM test by North Korea and demanded the international community take action in investigating nuclear proliferation. It was followed by the Indian government’s decision in 2018 to cut off trade links with North Korea to push the country towards an economic crisis, which has been part of the US foreign policy objectives. Furthermore, the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in March 2022, issued a statement condemning North Korea’s ICMB tests and demanding an investigation into the proliferation activities.
India has been benefiting from immense US tolerance towards its military build-ups. In October 2021, India conducted the test of the Agni-5 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICMB), capable of striking targets at ranges up to 5,000 kilometers. India has also initiated work on the next generation ICBM, the Agni-6, with an estimated range of over 8,000 kilometers. In addition, India has emerged as the top US arms importer while at the same time being one of the largest arms importers from Russia.
Whenever India has received any military or diplomatic support from the US and its European allies, it tends to use it against Pakistan while presenting itself as a potential country in the US-led global efforts against China’s rise. In the case of the DPRK denuclearization, New Delhi is helping the US curb North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and expects the US and the Western world to back it up by promoting its negative designs against Pakistan.
Under the aegis of its apparent contribution to the denuclearization of North Korea, India is trying to propagate its foreign policy objectives, which also include damaging Pakistan’s repute in the international community. In 1998, when Pakistan was compelled to conduct a successful nuclear test to equalize its status with India as a nuclear power state, India joined the US-led western world’s propaganda against Pakistan’s strategic assets. Similar to its negative role in the past, the recent statements of the Indian government can be viewed as a new context of New Delhi’s propaganda campaign against Pakistan.
With growing conventional and nuclear build-ups and continuous human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, India has put regional peace at risk. The US support for India is an obvious violation of its commitments to the non-proliferation regime. The world must not turn a blind eye to India’s continued aggression and nuclearization of South Asia and beyond and must not be deceived by its reiteration of continued support for denuclearization toward peace and security in the Korean Peninsula. The US and the western world need to realize that their support for India could lead to a strategic imbalance and threaten the peace of the already volatile region due to the aggressive strategic policies of India. The international community needs to take initiatives to ensure a non-discriminatory global regime on non-proliferation for all states. For Pakistan, it is high time to take diplomatic steps and strengthen its position in the global forums to raise the issue of the Indian government’s irresponsible behavior.