15 June, 2021

Mushrooming Nukes

The challenges of nuclear risk reduction are likely to be greater on the subcontinent than it was for the US and the Soviet Union.

Mushrooming Nukes
Saurabh Singh Nuclear deterrence theory is now being tested against the subcontinent's complex realities. As US-Soviet nuclear competition was evolving, deterrence theorists identified a stability/instability paradox associated with offsetting N-weapon capabilities. Its essence was that nuclear weapons were supposed to stabilise relations between adversaries and to foreclose a major war between them. Simultaneously, offsetting nuclear capabilities might also prompt provocations, instability, and even conflict at lower levels—because nuclear weapons would presumably provide insurance against escalation.

Deterrence theorists and strategic analysts argue about most things, including this paradox. Deterrence optimists who believe in the stabilising attributes of offsetting nuclear capabilities are convinced that the spectre of the mushroom cloud will rationalise national security policies. The Kargil war didn't shake their optimism—they thought its short duration, and the concerted international...

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