Extended Deterrence Continues in North-East Asia amidst Geopolitical Change

August 09, 2016

New Delhi: Analysing the degree to which extended nuclear deterrence will continue to play a role in East Asia in the coming decades; noted experts today said that it would depend largely on the nature of the American presence in the region and the evolution of its alliance commitments with Japan and RoK.

Highlighting the prevailing security dynamics in the region, the experts reflected that the prospects for de-nuclearisation in the East Asian region are bleak.

The experts were speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Republic of Korea & Japan: Questions on Extended Deterrence’, organised by the Indian Pugwash Society on August 9, 2016, in remembrance of the 71st year of the atomic bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The panel comprised Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, Professor KV Kesavan; former Indian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Ambassador Mr Skand Ranjan Tayal and Director, Institute for Chinese Studies, New Delhi, Professor Alka Acharya.

The experts agreed that extended nuclear deterrence has remained a key component of the U.S.–Japanese bilateral security partnership over the past 64 years. They noted that Japan signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970 but ratified it only six years later.

Extended nuclear deterrence has remained a source of stability for Japan. However, keeping in view Japan’s concerns over U.S. intentions in an increasingly multi-polar and uncertain world, Tokyo needs reassurance. The success or failure of this will strongly influence whether Japan continues its traditional anti-nuclear weapons policy (non-production, non-possession and non acquisition) or embarks on a more adventurous course, added the experts, thus highlighting a possible evolution in Japan’s non-proliferation and security policies.

Observing the nuclear dynamics in the Korean peninsula, the experts noted that the United States was the first to nuclearise the region and extended nuclear deterrence remains the centerpiece of the U.S.-RoK Security alliance.

Commenting on the increasing proximity between South Korea and China, the experts noted that Korea is aware of the declining U.S. economic power and it remains to be seen if Korea is willing to eventually entrust its security to China. Some Koreans believe they could be a mediator between China and the United States.

The experts also noted that the Chinese ‘principled’ nuclear policy lacks credibility due to its continued disregard of global non-proliferation norms and its clandestine aid to nuclear and missile programmes in countries such as DPRK and Pakistan. China’s military and technological assistance to DPRK has been a long-standing security concern for Japan & RoK.

Every year the Indian Pugwash Society remembers the victims of atomic bombing in Hiroshima & Nagasaki. The U.S. forces had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, killing an estimated 140,000 persons. Another atomic bomb had hit Nagasaki on August 9, forcing Japan’s surrender to the Allied Forces on August 15, bringing the war to an end.