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China, Pak, India won't use arsenals to bring on Second Nuclear Age in Asia


Washington D.C. [United States], Nov.21 (ANI): Workshops conducted in the capitals of China, Pakistan and India recently, have come to the optmistic conclusion that all three countries see themselves as stakeholders in the existing international order, and are committed to an open economic order and multilateral institutionalism.
A report supported and funded by the MacArthur Foundation, and authored by Gaurav Kampani and Bharath Gopalaswamy, has concluded that none of these three countries would use their sophisticated and diversified nuclear arsenals to bring on what they describe as "The Second Nuclear Age."
It may be recalled that the “First Nuclear Age” was manifested during the Cold War years of 1950s and 1960s.
Despite this optimistic conclusion, both Kampani and Gopalaswamy, have, in their report, flagged some important concerns.
They believe that the greatest threat to stability in the region “comes not from the development of large,  sophisticated, and diversified nuclear arsenals, but from the continued stability of  the institutions guarding them.”
Cautioning both China and India against going in for or promoting “aggressive nationalism”, both authors have warned that such thoughts or actions thereof could lead to “truly horrendous” consequences and realise the “worst-case assumptions of nuclear pessimists.”
Admitting that the Asian nuclear equations and dimensions are complex, Gopalaswamy and Kampani carefully discern the instabilities, not merely at the inter-state level, but also at the intra-state and civil-society levels, dimensions that are often ignored in many contemporary analyses of the region.
Their insights in this report give us a better understanding of competitive nuclearisation occurring in China, India and Pakistan currently, and they believe it should be a must-read for both scholars and policy makers alike.
They said, "During  the  first  nuclear  age,   baroque  nuclear arms buildups, technical one-upmanship, forward- deployed  nuclear  forces,  and  trigger-alert operational postures characterised the competition between the super powers and their regional allies. The nuclear rivals embraced  nuclear war-fighting doctrines, which internalised the notion that nuclear weapons were usable instruments in the pursuit of political ends, and that nuclear wars were winnable. (Now), there is a sense of déjà vu among nuclear pessimists that nuclear developments in China, India and Pakistan could produce similar outcomes."
In their report, titled 'Asia in the Second Nuclear Age', they state, "The second nuclear age consists of two separate systems of nuclear rivalry, with potentially dangerous spillover effects. The first rivalry is centered on India, Pakistan, and  China, with a geographic footprint that overlays the larger Indo- Pacific region. The second rivalry encompasses the Northeast Pacific, overlaying the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the United States."
"North Korean developments, and a potential U.S. overreaction to them, threaten China’s historic nuclear minimalism and its own interests as an emerging global power. Similarly, U.S. suggestions of a global retreat, and the retraction of extended deterrence guarantees to its allies in Northeast Asia, could push those allies to acquire independent nuclear arsenals and intensify the second nuclear age," they warn.
It was observed that the size of the Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani arsenals will remain a function of the calculations of damage ratios that each believes essential to achieve deterrence.
"Yet, if current trends remain stable, the size of their arsenals should remain comparable to the French and British nuclear arsenals. The arsenals will be large, but will by no means approach the gargantuan size of the US or Russian nuclear arsenals," the two authors said.
Both further go on to say that the "big difference between the first and second nuclear ages is the domestic stability of the nuclear-weapon  powers."
"For the greater part of the first nuclear age, states that wielded nuclear arsenals were stable and boasted strong governing institutions. In Asia, while China and  India represent  this  continuity  of strong state institutions, as well  as checks and balances  on the military, Pakistan remains internally unstable and increasingly unable to rein in praetorianism over national security and nuclear policy," they add.
Indian planners and strategic thinkers have updated their nuclear philosophy to consider the new structure of the Indian nuclear force. But they insist that its  drivers remain the same as before: the arsenal serves as the means of deterring potential nuclear threats from  Pakistan and China. Also emphasized is India’s goal to ultimately develop an invulnerable, and lethal, second-strike capability to achieve deterrence. The other point reiterated in New Delhi is that, whereas India’s initial operational focus was Pakistan—against which a conventional war is considered most likely—strategic attention in nuclear force planning is increasingly focused on  China, against  which India possesses a very limited retaliatory capability. Senior and retired government officials, however, shy away from specifying damage-expectancy  targets  for either Pakistan or China.
The other conclusion that comes out is that by the middle of this century, these three nuclear powers will field arsenals, each possibly the size of France’s or the UK’s, and well in excess of Israel’s. Each will also possess a diversified nuclear arsenal in  terms of  delivery systems, but not in warhead types, with the exception of  China. The authors say that from a non-proliferation perspective, this is a highly negative development.
"This absoluteness, however, is mitigated by the political, structural, cultural-institutional, and technical subtexts in  which the arsenals are embedded. Politically, the regional competitors do not find themselves in security  dilemmas in which the existence of their political systems  is  at stake, as did the competitors  during the Cold War," the authors say.
"China, India and Pakistan are stakeholders in the existing international order, and are committed to an open economic order and multilateral institutionalism. Further,   unlike  the   pre-World   War   I   era,  no competitor in the second nuclear age is part of rigid alliance systems engaged in repeated crises driven by notions of absolute gains," they add.
The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center conducted three workshops in India, Pakistan and China on the unfolding nuclear dynamics in the region.
All three workshops had a common theme: Assessing Nuclear Futures in Asia.  Under this umbrella theme, participants tackled three specific subjects (1) General nature  of  the  strategic  competition in Indo-Pacific region (2) The philosophical approaches shaping  nuclear  developments in China, India and Pakistan and (3) The hardware and operational characteristics of their nuclear forces.
The first workshop was held at the Center for International   Strategic Studies in Islamabad. The second workshop was conducted at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and the third workshop was held at the Carnegie- Tsinghua Center in Beijing.
Each workshop involved structured sessions with formal presentations  and follow-on roundtable sessions. (ANI)

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