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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

South Asia and the Nuclear Future: Rethinking the Causes and Consequences of Nuclear Proliferation


Edited by Todd S. Sechser.

May 2005

Brief Synopsis

On June 4-5, 2004, the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University hosted a workshop on the question of nuclear weapons and stability in South Asia. Cosponsored by CISAC and the U.S. Army War College, the workshop brought together approximately 75 scholars, military officers, civilian policymakers, scientists, and journalists.

Key Insights:

• U.S. policy toward the nuclearization of India and Pakistan has shifted from sanctions and rollback to reluctant acceptance of their nuclear status. The United States now seeks to ensure that India and Pakistan become responsible nuclear powers and is emphasizing cooperative measures to prevent war, secure weapons and material from terrorist theft, and stop the further spread of nuclear weapons.
• Analyses of Indian and Pakistani nuclear behavior must consider the domestic political motivations of key decisionmakers and not just national security interests.
• Nuclear weapons in South Asia have both precipitated one limited war (Kargil 1999) and prevented another (the 2001-02 crisis). The lessons learned from these events in New Delhi and Islamabad may be dissimilar.
• India and Pakistan might be willing to cooperate with the broader nuclear nonproliferation regime, even if they cannot join the NPT as nuclear-weapons states. Such a step could be essential in bolstering efforts to prevent illicit nuclear assistance to new proliferating nations.
• The strategic effects of a potential Indian missile defense deployment are highly uncertain.
• The United States, India, and Pakistan have mutual interests in preventing nuclear terrorism, which could lead to deeper cooperation among the three countries.


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