STRATEGIC ANALYSIS

South Asia's Unstable Nuclear Decade

S. Paul Kapur is Associate Professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the US Naval Postgraduate School and faculty affiliate at CISAC.
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  • May 2009
    Volume: 
    33
    Issue: 
    3
    Articles

    The tenth anniversary of India and Pakistan's 1998 nuclear tests enables scholars to revisit the issue of South Asian proliferation with a decade of hindsight. I argue that nuclear weapons have had two destabilizing effects. First, nuclear weapons' ability to shield Pakistan against all-out Indian retaliation, and to attract international attention to Pakistan's dispute with India, encouraged aggressive Pakistani behavior. This provoked forceful Indian responses, ranging from large-scale mobilization to limited war. Second, these Indo-Pakistani crises led India to adopt a more aggressive military posture toward Pakistan. This could exacerbate security-dilemma dynamics and increase the likelihood of future Indo-Pakistani conflict.

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