Nuclear testing restraint is a priority

The international community is understandably up in arms over the five nuclear tests detonated by India.

In addition to setting the stage for a possible deadly confrontation with neighboring Pakistan, India's defiance threatens to hinder major international progress in stemming the development of nuclear weapons by countries around the globe.

Faced with the threat of a mounting nuclear arms race, experts say, nations who signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty may now hesitate to ratify it.

For Israel, India's actions are particularly threatening. The Jewish state's long-standing fear of an "Islamic bomb," particularly in the hands of an extremist state such as Iran or Libya, has been sparked anew.

In trying to keep up with India, Pakistan could turn to rich Muslim states for cash aid and could trade nuclear secrets in the process, Israel fears.

Of course, the nuclear question is sticky for the Jewish state since it is one of only three countries believed to have nuclear weapons capabilities that have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Israel has sustained its share of criticism for that stance over the years.

This week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remained vague on Israel's nuclear capacity while at the same time reiterating that his nation "will not be the first state to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East."

We also hope Israel will not be the first state in the Middle East to test its weapons.

Just as the United States is attempting to provide incentives for Pakistan not to test nuclear weapons, Israel should be rewarded for showing restraint in this realm — as far as we know.

Testing by Israel would contribute to the current backslide in nuclear arms progress. And it would surely incur international wrath — the last thing Israel needs.