In recent years, India has played an influential role in the ASEAN, SAARC, and the WTO. India is a founding member and long time supporter of the United Nations, with over 55,000 Indian military and police personnel having served in thirty-five UN peace keeping operations deployed across four continents. Despite criticism and military sanctions, India has consistently refused to sign the CTBT and the NPT, preferring instead to maintain sovereignty over its nuclear program. Recent overtures by the Indian government have strengthened relations with the United States, China, and Pakistan. In the economic sphere, India has close relationships with other developing nations in South America, Asia, and Africa.
India maintains the third largest military force in the world, which consists of the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force. Auxiliary forces such as the Paramilitary Forces, the Coast Guard, and the Strategic Forces Command also come under the military's purview. The President of India is the supreme commander of the Indian armed forces. India became a nuclear power in 1974 after conducting an initial nuclear test, Operation Smiling Buddha. Further underground testing in 1998 led to international military sanctions against India, which were gradually withdrawn after September 2001. India maintains a "no first use" nuclear policy and has a "strong nuclear non-proliferation record" according to the White House, despite not being a signatory to the Nuclear
THE small hamlet of Buchanan has become a popular news conference locale in recent months. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, there has been broad public debate about whether the Indian Point nuclear power plant there is a target for terrorism.
Showing at the plant has promised plenty of news coverage, and many politicians have taken the plant's officials to task over various issues, including shutting the plant down. But more and more plant supporters are now accusing politicians of jumping on the Indian Point bandwagon and exploiting the issue for their own political gain.
Central in this backlash is Gavin J. Donohue, executive director of the Independent Power Producers of New York. Mr. Donohue has accused politicians of using the plant as a news conference backdrop and ''inducing hysteria and fear in residents.''
Mr. Donohue, whose trade association represents electric generators and marketers, contended that ''these politicians know very little about a complex issue'' but have simply seized upon it to get themselves some camera time. He called their calls to shut down Indian Point permanently ''a self-serving attempt to take advantage of Sept. 11 by manipulating the fears of Westchester residents.''
''It's political opportunism by politicians who don't know the impact of such a decision,'' said Mr. Donohue. Closing the plant, he contended, would increase electric rates for residents by 40 percent and cost more than 1,500 jobs. It would also delete a tax base of $45 million and $356 million in payroll and expenditures that the plant adds to the local economy, he said, and overtax the state's electric system.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Charles E. Schumer have appeared in front of Indian Point. So have Representatives Nita M. Lowey and Eliot L. Engel, both of whom have advocated closing or decommissioning the plant.