Roots of South Asian Nuclear Deterrence Instability: Challenges and Opportunities

Roots of South Asian Nuclear Deterrence Instability: Challenges and Opportunities

  • 6 August 2014

Nuclear Deterrence Stability (NDS) is achieved when two nuclear-armed rival countries move from brinksmanship to détente. This paper analyzes the lack of India–Pakistan nuclear deterrence stability and its impact on key global security interests in South Asia. Since September 11, 2001, the United States has defused two major crises between India and Pakistan that (many US officials thought) could have escalated to the nuclear level.

This paper argues that India and Pakistan have not achieved nuclear deterrence stability because of seven factors: aggressive state behavior and regime type; uniquely complex and protracted conflict; ineffective dispute resolution; dangerous nuclear postures; lack of nuclear arms and testing controls; lack of nuclear learning; and questionable nuclear security.  However, three factors provide opportunities for India–Pakistan NDS: regional economic integration, domestic politics in favor of détente, and precedents of successful treaties. Moreover, Middle Eastern countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, have strong economic ties with India and cultural and military ties with Pakistan that can be leveraged to promote India–Pakistan détente.

Under the leadership of the United States, most countries are committed to preventing an India–Pakistan war. Sustaining counterterrorism partnerships and securing nuclear materials from terrorist organizations are important US security interests, as is promoting energy trade and economic progress. Yet effective policy proposals are lacking that specifically target the roots of South Asian nuclear deterrence instability. Unless the United States (with the support of the United Arab Emirates) makes deliberate efforts towards India–Pakistan NDS, and India and Pakistan work together, the cost of perpetual conflict in economic and geopolitical terms will be too great.

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Wednesday 6 August 2014

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Wednesday 6 August 2014

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