STRATEGIC ANALYSIS

Nuclear Weapons and India-Pakistan Relations: A Complementary Comment

The late Sir Michael Quinlan was Consulting Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London.
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  • May 2009
    Volume: 
    33
    Issue: 
    3
    Debate

    Nuclear weapons deter by the possibility of their use, and in no other way. Although US and Soviet arsenals became grotesquely excessive in both numbers and diversity in the late 1960s, by the later 1908s there had been very extensive reductions in both numbers and types. NATO's collective doctrine had accepted that the only sen-sible role for its nuclear weapons was for war-termination. Western governments had increasingly accepted the idea of sufficiency, recognizing that notions of nuclear supe-riority were vacuous. NATO, having abandoned as too precarious a strategy of 'mas-sive retaliation', switched to a concept of 'flexible response'. The total dismissal of the conceptual framework Western nuclear policies of past years runs a genuine risk of over-confidence or even complacency.

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