The double edged sword : the role of nuclear weapons in South Asia

Date

2011

Authors

Karki, Rohit

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Abstract

This thesis exammes the consequences of nuclear proliferation on South Asia, specifically whether India and Pakistan are moving towards a stable nuclear balance. The thesis uses comparative case study methods to examine the role of nuclear weapons in crises and the lessons learnt from those crises. The thesis argues that nuclear weapons have played the dual role of crisis instigator and crisis manager in South Asia. That is, nuclear weapons have contributed to the outbreak of crises predominantly by empowering Pakistan to provoke India. However, once these crises were underway, the fear of escalation to nuclear war prompted considerable restraint and hence nuclear weapons can be understood to have also played a role of crisis manager. Furthermore, although India and Pakistan's growing nuclear arsenals, nuclear doctrines and command and control systems have exhibited complexity of deterrence, the evolving nuclear learning in India and Pakistan limits the likelihood of nuclear weapons use during a crisis. The thesis demonstrates that the role of nuclear weapons in South Asia can be best understood through this dual characterisation and that we may exercise sober optimism for the stability of nuclear deterrence in South Asia.

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Thesis (PhD)

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Open Access

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DOI

10.25911/5d514c4b2a368

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