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Latest Policy Briefs and Reports

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Managing the China, India and Pakistan Nuclear Trilemma: Ensuring Nuclear Stability in the New Nuclear Age

Policy Brief  No.144 - December, 2022 • By Rakesh Sood

How will nuclear deterrence work in a non-bipolar world? Is the answer in terms of reducing equations to multiple dyads or trilemmas or strategic chains? What should be the objective of arms control in a multiplayer set up? Is the existing vocabulary of deterrence that originated in a bipolar Cold War context holding up in today’s world? This paper seeks to explore these questions in the context of the China, India and Pakistan trilemma. The paper identifies the challenges of the new nuclear age in terms of multiple dyads and triangular relationships and examines the relevance of the existing deterrence model. A short account of the China–India and Pakistan–India rivalries, its sources, similarities and differences is presented, along with attempts made so far to address the risks through bilateral agreements and understandings. Finally, future possibilities for dialogue to manage nuclear risks, bilaterally, trilaterally and in a larger setting are examined.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

The China–India–Pakistan Nuclear Triangle: Consequential Choices for Asian Security

Policy Brief  No.143 - December, 2022 • By Salman Bashir

Asia is now the fulcrum of global power politics. This complicates the quest for building regional stability, harmony and prosperity. This paper examines the wider regional and global geopolitical entanglements of China, India and Pakistan and prospects of promoting regional stability and avoidance of nuclear conflict. To the conflictual ‘continental’ dynamics of China, India and Pakistan, the US Indo-Pacific strategy has inserted a ‘maritime’ dimension with ‘land and sea’ and ‘geo-politic and geo-economic’ connotations. India is a lynchpin of the US Indo-Pacific strategy and the choices India makes will determine the trajectory of India–China and India–Pakistan relations. India aspires to a global power status that requires it to outmatch China and dominate South Asia and the Indian Ocean region. Pakistan is concerned over Indian conventional preponderance that poses a threat to its security.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Strategic Risk Management in Southern Asia

Policy Brief  No.142 - December, 2022 • By Feroz Hassan Khan

Strategic stability at the China-India-Pakistan trijunction remains tenuous. Though drivers of conflict vary in each dyad, common aspirations and history of cooperative security agreements are worthy foundations for managing future strategic risks in Southern Asia. While each state in the strategic triangle faces nested security dilemmas, new sources of instabilities are compounding the strategic trilemma. This Policy Brief identifies three key strategic risks and proposes that the three states consider new strategic risk-reduction measures through a series of multilateral and bilateral strategic dialogues at the Track-I and Track-II levels, and establish “strategic risk-reduction centres” customised to the Southern Asian strategic environment. These centres would function as a central clearing house for all past and future agreements and act as nodal points for preventing misinterpretation or tragic incidents.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

The China–India–Pakistan Trilemma and Accidental War

Policy Brief  No.141 - December, 2022 • By Prakash Menon

The perspective of the paper is the geopolitical contestation between China-India-Pakistan. Territorial disputes harbour the potential for conflict under the nuclear overhang between China–India and India–Pakistan. The two dyads are structurally separate but are also connected. The greater danger of nuclear war in both dyads is concealed in the inability to control escalation of conflicts that may have small beginnings but can potentially spin out of control. The paper uses Clausewitz escalation model to highlight this crucial issue. A Global No First Use Treaty is proposed and one that is possible only if the dangers of nuclear war are publicised at the global level thus forcing the hand of political leaders. This is an imperative step to free the leadership from the shackles of varied impractical nuclear strategies that are unable to answer the question: what happens after the first nuclear weapon is fired?