Future of Nuclear South Asia

South Asia is the most volatile and unpredictable security complex.  There are several states in it and all of them have a different pattern of relation among themselves. India is enjoying dominance and all other states, except Pakistan are designing their policies somewhat according to wishes of India. Pakistan is a challenger to India and both countries have fought several wars.

With the addition of nuclear dimension in South Asia the matters have become more complex. No doubt nuclearization has stopped war between India and Pakistan, but it has changed the pattern of war as well. Now there is Fourth Generation war and Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Davol has openly admitted it in one of his public speech. In this situation several questions arises: Is there any possibility of turning these sub-conventional attacks into a war which has been prevented since 1971 because of nuclear weapons? If a war breaks out, will it be limited just like Kargil Conflict or it will turn into a full-scale war? What is the possibility of nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan in case of a war?

South Asia is badly affected by the curse of terrorism. Along with terrorism, religious extremism is increasing further. Both Pakistan and India are badly suffering from it. There are several anti-India groups in Pakistan and anti-Pakistan groups in India. They are operating in their own procedure; some incidents have increased the temperature of the region. Its prominent example is Mumbai attack in which India accused a Pakistani religious group Lahker-E-Taiba as a responsible for that and threatened Pakistan to attack it. International community intervened and kept India away from attacking Pakistan.

If some such attack takes place in future, there is a strong possibility of a war which will be out of control and will have disastrous consequences. What is probability of nuclear exchange? Pakistan believes in minimum credible deterrence but according to Bruce Ridel during Kargil crisis there were “disturbing evidence that the Pakistanis were preparing their nuclear arsenals for possible deployment”. India explains in its doctrine that it does not believe in a “first strike” doctrine but in fact, this doctrine only exists on paper which can be changed within hours as well as it can be ignored in case of crisis.

Such probability increases several times in the presence of politicians (and former minister) like Subramanian Swamy who openly said that India should drop Atom Bomb on Pakistan. The presence of such people in Indian politics is eternal danger for peace of South Asia.

Simply, one cannot rule out the use of nuclear weapons in South Asia. The South Asian case is different from the Cold War situation in which targets of main rival were several thousand kilometers away from each other. Here “enemy is at the gate” where missiles will less than five minutes up to main targets and in case of use of nuclear weapons in densely populated cities like Karachi or Mumbai more than 5 million people will die just for a single exchange of nuclear weapons.

What is possibility of nuclear disarmament in South Asia? Nuclear weapons were acquired by South Asian countries because of their security threats. Pakistan developed nuclear weapons because of security threats from India and as a reaction to Indian nuclear weapons. The apparent flexibility in Indian Nuclear doctrine is because of Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons. India has nuclear weapons because it feels itself threaten from China’s mighty military power and nuclear weapons. Indian conventional power is sufficient to handle Pakistan. Pakistan will keep its nuclear weapons unless it feels itself threaten from India. It has several conflicts with India and prime among these is Kashmir Issue. If Kashmir problem is resolved, will Pakistan disarm itself from nuclear weapons? Certainly not; there are certain other issues (such as water issue) that can be converted into war in future. As long as there is possibility of war with India, Pakistan will have nuclear weapons.

India has its own threat perception. It went for nuclear weapons because of its fear from China and its relations are getting complex with China. It has trade relations of more than $ 100 billion with China but it has border conflict with China. It is challenging China in the South China Sea by drilling for Vietnam in a region which China is considering a disputed area. China wants to have some control in Indian Ocean and India wants to block Chinese access in Indian Ocean with the help of United States. Here a conflict can be started and its intensity can increase further. It is not necessary that it may an open conflict but it can lead to a sort of cold war. In the Cold War, between the USSR and the US, no war or battle was fought but it observed a mad nuclear and conventional arm race. Although China does not believe in such arm race, as Mao called nuclear weapons “paper tigers” and India is also ready to sign Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) but it has stock piles of thousands of nuclear weapons. Its mean China and India can involve in a sever arm race without a mad nuclear arms race but possibility of nuclear arm race cannot be ruled out.

As far as China is concerned, it is last NPT signatory state with nuclear weapons. It developed nuclear weapons with Soviet help at such a time when the US was strengthening its military position in Pacific Ocean. It did not fight any direct war with the US but soon after its nuclear test, its differences developed with Soviet Union and both countries fought a war (in 1969) in which Chinese suffered more. Conventionally, both the USSR and the US are powerful than China. Both of these states had several thousand nuclear weapons during Cold War (more 50,000 nukes in mid 1970s) but it did not pursue China to increase its nuclear weapons. Its mean China will not increase the number of its nuclear weapon even if India do so.

How nuclear disarmament is possible in South and East Asia? Can a reverse pattern be applied? Under present condition it is not possible. Pakistan will disarm if India disarms. As far as India is concerned, it will do so if China disarms itself from nuclear weapons. China has problem both with the US and Russia and it will disarm if these countries disarm. In fact, South Asian Nuclear politics is driven by International Nuclear Politics. A Nuclear Weapons Free South Asia is only possible in Nuclear Weapons Free World.

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  • Limpkisar

    It would have been great if your thoughts put some light on country specific nuclear deals such as 123 agreement which is fueling arms race in South Asia. India was the 1st country to introduce nuclear weapons in South Asia. Pakistan followed in self defense. Indian nuclear test compelled Pakistan to develop a strong defense and nuclear explosion was the reply to India.

  • Hell Boy

    In fact it is India’s Nuclear Arms Race with China and Pakistan which is an Issue for Non-Proliferation. Pakistan and China are not a threat to India and are always saying this, that they want peaceful relations with India. At a time when the world is full of thousands of
    people rallying for peace, India is giving a different message to the rest of the world with dozens of deals going around.

  • Arvind Baba

    The dynamics of the still evolving India–Pakistan nuclear relationship will be critical. This relationship is, of course, increasingly a part of a larger set of strategic relationships involving the United States and China. The real problem not lies in creation of Pakistan or partition but in the defective process of partition or the manner in which it resulted in arbitrary demarcation of boundaries. Thus there are boundary problems between all south Asian states in general and with India particular.

  • BravePart 00 77 2 3

    Here is what you need to know about nuclear energy, in a nutshell —>

    (1) Nuclear energy is NOT carbon-emission-free. Nuclear power plants release 90 – 140 g of CO2 per kwh. AND, each nuclear power plant releases massive amounts of Carbon-14 which is CONVERTED TO CO2 in the atmosphere!

    Nuclear Energy = Carbon-14 = CO2 = Climate Change

    (2) Nuclear power plants also release dangerous radiation into the air and water during their daily operations.

    This radiation is linked to all kinds of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, birth defects, miscarriages, thyroid problems, leukemia, the list goes on and on

    (3) Each nuclear power plant uses up to 30 MILLION gallons of water per HOUR.

    (4) During refueling, nuclear power plants can release up to 1,000X the amount of radiation, and Dr. Ian Fairlie believes this is what causes the increases in childhood leukemias around nuclear
    power plants.

    (5) Let’s discuss the childhood leukemias and cancer deaths that researchers say are caused by nuclear energy:

    Quote from Dr. Ernest Sternglass —>

    “…The official measurements carried out by the Office of Radiological Health, and by the government, and the Public Health Service, they measured the radiation doses around the first big
    reactors in Dresden near Chicago, and they found that indeed there were doses almost as high as half of the normal background, and according to Dr. Stewart’s finding, that would mean an increase of 40-50% in childhood cancers and leukemias around the fence of every nuclear plant.”

    SOURCE: youtube /watch?v=hN7rcjSnxZs

    (6) Dr. John Gofman’s research states that EACH nuclear power plants causes up to 1,600 cancer DEATHS per YEAR.

    (7) There is NO solution for the nuclear waste, and the cost to maintain nuclear waste, guard it, and store it for up to 250,000 years is INFINITE.

    The caring for nuclear waste is the largest form of LONG-TERM DEBT that any country with nuclear energy will have, and could easily bankrupt a country.

    (8) To learn what happens when nuclear energy goes WRONG, go to the highly recommended website ENENEWS dot com


    Peace and stability in south Asia will remains dream unless both big countries Pakistan and India settle their core issues,the situation will remain same and can be worse if the mother of all issues Kashmir dispute prolongs.