Report: Foregrounding India’s Nuclear Responsibilities: Nuclear Weapons Possession and Disarmament in South Asia

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The BASIC Programme on Nuclear Responsibilities shapes the approach to international nuclear weapon policy to draw out the “nuclear responsibilities” of states around nuclear weapons during the process of global disarmament. Each nuclear weapons possessor state has described itself as a 'responsible' nuclear-armed state, but there exists no common understanding of what this entails. This presents an opportunity for a new, inclusive and engaging discussion of nuclear deterrence, restraint, and disarmament that is centred around the nuclear responsibilities frame.

What this report does

The wider international milieu should consider the risks posed by the Indo-Pak confrontation because they have both violated the ‘first law’ of nuclear politics: nuclear-armed states do not fight wars with each other. India and Pakistan have on more than one occasion fought against each other at a conventional level. This is a highly destabilising relationship that could unintentionally break the long-standing 'nuclear taboo' and spiral into a full-scale nuclear exchange.

This report:

– analyses India’s understanding of nuclear weapons possession from the perspective of internal and external responsibilities with a view to eventual disarmament;

– identifies India’s approach to framing nuclear doctrine;

– assesses the risks inherent in abandoning a No First Use (NFU) policy; 

– ascertains how India can credibly increase strategic stability by strengthening its beleaguered NFU policy;

– and identifies the problem associated with civil society’s deification of nuclear weapons as an obstacle, which can be overcome to achieve political transparency and public debate that challenges policy-framers security outlook.   

Download the report here:

About the author(s)...
  • Rishi Paul, South Asia Analyst holds both an MA in Strategic Studies and a Ph.D from the University of Leeds. Whilst a researcher at the University of Leeds, his doctorate examined U.S. post- 9/11 nuclear strategy, particularly on challenges posed by incorporating ballistic missile defence into strategic doctrine. His research interests include U.S. nuclear policy and force structure, non-proliferation and deterrence. Rishi's current research focusses upon both India and Pakistan's nuclear policy and capability, especially its effect upon maintaining escalation control through their evolving deterrent relationship..
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