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Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era

Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era: Regional Powers and International Conflict

Vipin Narang
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era
    Book Description:

    The world is in a second nuclear age in which regional powers play an increasingly prominent role. These states have small nuclear arsenals, often face multiple active conflicts, and sometimes have weak institutions. How do these nuclear states-and potential future ones-manage their nuclear forces and influence international conflict? Examining the reasoning and deterrence consequences of regional power nuclear strategies, this book demonstrates that these strategies matter greatly to international stability and it provides new insights into conflict dynamics across important areas of the world such as the Middle East, East Asia, and South Asia.

    Vipin Narang identifies the diversity of regional power nuclear strategies and describes in detail the posture each regional power has adopted over time. Developing a theory for the sources of regional power nuclear strategies, he offers the first systematic explanation of why states choose the postures they do and under what conditions they might shift strategies. Narang then analyzes the effects of these choices on a state's ability to deter conflict. Using both quantitative and qualitative analysis, he shows that, contrary to a bedrock article of faith in the canon of nuclear deterrence, the acquisition of nuclear weapons does not produce a uniform deterrent effect against opponents. Rather, some postures deter conflict more successfully than others.

    Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Eraconsiders the range of nuclear choices made by regional powers and the critical challenges they pose to modern international security.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5040-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The world has entered a second nuclear age. This age is not defined by a bipolar global superpower competition involving massive nuclear arsenals with the capability to destroy each other multiple times over. In this new era, regional nuclear powers will define the proliferation and conflict landscape. These states have small nuclear arsenals, are often ensnared in long-standing rivalries, participate in multiple active conflicts, and often have weak domestic political institutions.

    However, because scholarly attention has focused largely on the superpowers and the Cold War nuclear competition we presently have a poor understanding of these unfolding nuclear dynamics. The superpower...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Sources of Regional Power Nuclear Postures: Posture Optimization Theory
    (pp. 13-54)

    The regional nuclear powers have thought about and selected nuclear strategies and postures that are fundamentally distinct from those of the superpowers. In this chapter, I identify three main types of regional power nuclear postures, arrayed across a spectrum of capabilities and deployment procedures. I then present my theory for why regional powers might select a specific nuclear posture. That is, given the diversity of alternative nuclear postures available to regional powers, why do states select one posture over the others? I approach this question by exploring the variables that should be expected to regulate a regional state’s choice of...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Pakistan
    (pp. 55-93)

    The next three chapters describe, and test the sources of, Asia’s regional power nuclear postures: Pakistan, India, and China. While India and China have persistently adopted assured retaliation postures, Pakistan switched from an explicitly catalytic posture between 1986 and 1998 to an aggressive asymmetric escalation posture that threatens the first use of nuclear weapons against Indian forces in order to deter its conventionally superior neighbor. Pakistan chose a catalytic nuclear posture in the late 1980s, when it employed its nascent nuclear weapons capability to compel the United States to assist it in crises with India. It was then forced to...

    (pp. 94-120)

    In this chapter, I explore India’s nuclear posture. Like China’s, which I discuss in the next chapter, I classify India’s nuclear posture as one of assured retaliation. There have been various dramatic moments in India’s nuclear weapons history that were often driven by domestic political considerations, most notably its nuclear tests in May of 1974 and 1998.¹ Nonetheless, the capabilities, envisioned use, and command-and-control apparatus that Delhi has erected for its nuclear forces have been persistent and consistent with an assured retaliation posture since 1974. Indeed, a former commander-in-chief of India’s Strategic Force Command, Vice Admiral (Ret.) Vijay Shankar, notes...

    (pp. 121-152)

    China was the last of the five recognized nuclear weapons states to develop nuclear capabilities, testing its first fission device, a 20–22 kT uranium device, on October 16, 1964. Unlike the superpowers before it, China has always maintained a limited nuclear arsenal, small numbers of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and hardly any support architecture. In this way, the Chinese nuclear posture has more closely resembled that of other regional nuclear powers than those of the superpowers. This chapter relies on the best available English language sources (of which there are actually more than, say, for India) to detail Chinese...

  10. CHAPTER SIX France
    (pp. 153-178)

    The next three chapters describe and code the nuclear postures of the three remaining regional nuclear powers, unified by the cooperation they shared in the nuclear domain: France, Israel, and South Africa. Although there was substantial nuclear cooperation between France and Israel, they operationalized their nuclear forces in diametrically opposed ways, with France opting for an explicit asymmetric escalation posture against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and then continuing with a tous azimuts asymmetric escalation strategy afterward. Israel, on the other hand, consciously selected a catalytic nuclear posture as a lever to compel the United States to assist...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Israel
    (pp. 179-206)

    Israel is the world’s oldest closet nuclear state. For more than forty years it has neither confirmed nor denied its possession of nuclear weapons, and has vowed not to be the first to “introduce” nuclear weapons into the Middle East (with the definition of “introduce” being left intentionally vague). But it has circulated enough credible rumors and hints that it does possess a nuclear weapons capability to lead most of the world to believe that Israel was the world’s sixth nuclear power. Indeed, not until December 2006—almost exactly forty years since Israel is believed to have been capable of...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT South Africa
    (pp. 207-221)

    South Africa’s experience with nuclear weapons remains unprecedented with regard to both nuclear proliferation and nonproliferation. In the 1970s, South Africa began a highly secret nuclear weapons program under Prime Minister John Vorster and subsequently Prime Minister P. W. Botha, taking advantage of its vast supplies of natural uranium. It ultimately built six nuclear devices without ever acknowledging or confirming its possession of nuclear weapons. A seventh nuclear weapon was under construction when President F. W. de Klerk halted production, shuttered South Africa’s uranium enrichment plant, and ultimately acceded to the NPT in 1991. In a remarkably candid speech to...

  13. CHAPTER NINE Deterring Unequally I: A Large-n Analysis
    (pp. 222-252)

    The first part of the book established that the regional nuclear powers have adopted different nuclear postures, coding when and why each power has adopted either a catalytic, assured retaliation, or asymmetric escalation nuclear posture. But does this variation matter? That is, do these various nuclear postures have differential deterrent effects on the outbreak of conflict? Are some nuclear postures better able to deter conflict than others? These are the motivating questions for the second part of the book. Over the next two chapters, I explore whether the fact that regional powers have adopted different nuclear postures matters to international...

  14. CHAPTER TEN Deterring Unequally II: Regional Power Nuclear Postures and Crisis Behavior
    (pp. 253-298)

    On November 26, 2008, terrorists from Lashkar-e-Taiba—a group historically supported by the Pakistani state—launched a daring sea assault from Karachi, Pakistan, and laid siege to India’s economic hub, Mumbai, crippling the city for three days and taking at least 163 lives. The world sat on edge as yet another crisis between South Asia’s two nuclear-armed states erupted with the risk of armed conflict. But India’s response was restrained. It did not mobilize military forces to retaliate against Pakistan or Lashkar camps operating there. A former Indian Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Shankar Roychowdhury, bluntly stated that Pakistan’s threat...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN Conclusion
    (pp. 299-312)

    This book has developed the first rigorous understanding of the sources and deterrence consequences of regional power nuclear strategies. It was motivated by several observations. First, I focused on the experience of the regional nuclear powers because it is their experiences that are most relevant and crucial to the second nuclear age in which we presently find ourselves. Their nuclear choices and their relative power position are distinct from those of the superpowers, demanding theories and analysis distinct from the Cold War scholarship that dominates our present understanding of nuclear strategy and deterrence. This focus on regional powers is in...

    (pp. 313-332)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 333-342)