The United States must realize that, over time, proliferation will probably occur in an even wider group of nations. Rewards — both in prestige and treasure — accrue to nations with nuclear programs.
The West paid off North Korea in an attempt to end its nuclear program (although whether that outlaw nation will actually give up its aspirations is a dubious proposition). The United States first tried economic penalties to slow or halt Pakistan“s nuclear program. Then it contemplated lavishing rewards on Pakistan to prevent it from taking that program to a new level. Some proposals to reward Pakistan — for example, extending U.S. security guarantees — would have had worse effects on U.S. security than the nuclear test they are designed to prevent.
While the prospect of a future limited nuclear exchange on the South Asian subcontinent is not pleasant, the Indian and Pakistani nuclear programs pose little immediate threat to the United States. Neither of those nations is actively hostile to the United States (unlike other nations, such as Iran and North Korea). India and Pakistan probably do not yet have warheads deployed on missiles. Even if they did, neither country has — and will not have for some years to come — a missile that can hit the United States.