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The following are excerpts from an article Nuclear Weapons Stability or Anarchy in the 21st Century: China, India, and Pakistan, dated February 25, 2011 by Thomas W. Graham, Ph.D.
The article carries this disclaimer: "The views expressed in this paper are those of this author and do not reflect Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Department of Energy [America's nuclear weapon development umbrella organisation (DOE)] or any other organization. The analysis is based entirely on open source and unclassified information."
While the following is largely opinion the proximity of the author to the '"coal face" of America's nuclear weapons research industry makes his words more significant.
"...Current conventional wisdoms suggest [future] change in nuclear status and politics will be incremental. This may turn out to be tragically wrong if global nuclear dogma is influenced strongly by the unstable triangular nuclear weapons competition among China, India, and Pakistan. Three indicators are worth watching to foreshadow whether the world will move toward nuclear stability or anarchy in South West Asia.
- First, will countries stabilize their operationally deployed nuclear forces at the approximate level of 150-200, 300-500 or larger?
- Second, will these three countries adopt compatible and increasingly stable nuclear postures or will they continue to cling to three divergent nuclear postures?
- Third, will future military crises be resolved with or without use or threatened use of nuclear weapons?
...China, India, and Pakistan will continue to maintain three mutually incompatible nuclear doctrines. Multiple drivers for nuclear force modernization in each country will provide sufficient domestic and bureaucratic political pressure to expand and modernize nuclear weapons for decades to come.
Given this situation, proposed arms control treaties such as the CTBT and FMCT will not be implemented. Both proposed agreements are opposed by all three countries to varying degrees. The roots of their opposition are not being addressed seriously with policy research, strategic planning, or diplomacy.
…The United States has adopted a neo-Cold War nuclear posture to keep a few European allies quiet and to avoid a major bureaucratic fight between the White House and a few civilian Pentagon officials who work closely with Republican allies on Capital Hill. …Perhaps the administration’s logic was that it perceived the demonstration effect of a fundamentally new American nuclear posture would have little significant impact on thinking in China, India, and Pakistan.
So why pay a short term domestic political price for the prospects of marginal increases in long-term stability? However, absent such a fundamental change and serious discussions between the U.S. and China, one can predict with a high degree of confidence that business as usual will produce nuclear arms races in South West Asia for decades.
Other reasons to sustain a business as usual approach are obvious. America will continue to spend approximately ten billion dollars per year on national missile defense to neutralize potent domestic constituencies regardless of technical feasibility and negative impact on Russia and China.
The United States does not want to think seriously about steps it could take to address the Kashmir conflict because it is so complex, India’s position has been set in stone for decades, and it is easier to think of India as a global economic power sympathetic to American values.
The United States has not invested in civilian governance and rebuilding civil administrative capability in Pakistan because the military is the only functioning entity in the country in the short term. Honest and capable civilian political leadership in Pakistan is almost entirely lacking and will take many years to develop and mature.
Pakistani born Islamic terrorists and “India-phobic and paranoid” Pakistani strategic culture is acknowledged by American decision makers as a key problem, but American decisions and actions are focused almost exclusively on the war on terror. The perception persists in both Washington and Islamabad that “the U.S. needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs the U.S."
In this context, adding the nuclear weapons issue to an overly crowded policy agenda with Pakistan will definitely over-load the circuits. The net result is probably that Pakistan leaders have concluded they can build as many nuclear weapons as they can produce plutonium and highly enriched uranium. They will take symbolic steps to better secure nuclear materials and weapons, but the question of “how much is enough” is off the table.
If this business as usual situation continues, the world should ready itself for a very rough ride in terms of nuclear weapons in the next two decades of the 21st century. South West Asia will be the dominant driver to an unstable world our children will rightly accuse us of having ignored to their peril. American decision makers in the 1980s chose to ignore on the ground realities after the Soviets were defeated in Afghanistan.
The blow back next time will be orders of magnitude larger and more tragic." See WHOLE ARTICLE.