Elite perception, nuclear weapons and international status When addressing the international system in which India’s nuclear build-up took place, the strategic elite frequently abstained from exploring its security dimension in detail, but instead evaluated the role nuclear weapons played in the country’s international standing. The empirical evidence presented in Figure 7.1 suggests that within India’s discourse, particularly during the crucial period of its nuclear programme from 1991 to 1998, the pros and cons of such weapons for India’s security were only marginally discussed. The share of analyses focusing on the status aspect among the overall reporting on the nuclear issue sharply increased from about 20 per cent before 1986, to 70 per cent in the 1991-6 period, and 73 per cent in the 1996-8 period. After the nuclear tests of 1998, its share dropped again to 35 per cent in the period of consolidation from May 1998 to 2003, and finally to only 20 per cent after 2003.