The global nonproliferation regime faces a major challenge in South Asia. India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed states locked in an intense and enduring rivalry, are investing heavily in their respective nuclear arsenals and deploying new delivery systems at an alarming rate.
A Regional Perspective
The NPT, which entered into force in 1970, offered a grand bargain to countries willing to eschew nuclear weapons acquisition by promising them access to verifiably peaceful nuclear technology and a “good faith” pledge from the nuclear-weapon states (China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States) to reduce if not eliminate their nuclear weapons stockpiles.4 India, Pakistan, and Israel—now de facto nuclear-armed states—did not accept the treaty and are generally described as outliers from an NPT standpoint. India, for its part, decried the treaty as a form of nuclear apartheid wherein the currency of power was the preserve of the five privileged countries that wielded their veto power in the UN Security Council to jealously guard their nuclear monopoly. Proponents of this view painted the nuclear issue in populist terms—a dispute between nuclear haves and have-nots. Moreover, India aspired to be treated as a global power, as it still does. It desires to be in the elite club of haves on par with China and loathes being lumped with Pakistan as a nuclear outlier.
Separate, Bilateral Tracks
1. India and Pakistan are treated as normal nuclear states that possess nuclear weapons for national security reasons. Both states should formally reiterate that their nuclear capabilities are exclusively for defensive deterrence purposes.
2. The international community recognizes that nuclear legitimacy for Islamabad and New Delhi is an important step in curtailing the Indian-Pakistani arms race. Normalization would encourage nuclear stability, security, and safety and would induce the cooperation between the two countries that was described in the 1999 Lahore memorandum of understanding.
3. The two states agree to separate their civilian and military nuclear programs and fuel cycles cleanly and completely and to place the facilities declared as civilian under internationally agreed safeguards.
4. The two states agree to keep nuclear weapons on their lowest alert status, with nuclear warheads separated from their delivery vehicles.
5. The two states agree to adopt the highest global standards of nuclear security and safety and seek maximum assistance in this area from international organizations and countries with advanced nuclear programs.
6. The two states agree to commence a sustained bilateral dialogue for peace and security with a view toward negotiating and implementing a mutually acceptable arrangement for strategic restraint.
7. The two states agree to facilitate rather than obstruct the commencement of a global FMCT, maintain their nuclear testing moratorium, and pledge to join the CTBT.
1. Paul Bracken describes the emergence of new nuclear powers in the post-Cold War period as the “second nuclear age.” Paul Bracken, The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics (New York: Times Books, 2012). See also Ashley Tellis, Abraham Denmark, and Travis Tanner, eds., Strategic Asia 2013-2014: Asia in the Second Nuclear Age (Washington DC: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2013).
3. A memorandum of understanding was part of the Lahore Declaration of 1999, which was signed by Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India and Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan on February 21, 1999. This was the first bilateral agreement between India and Pakistan after the nuclear tests. The memorandum commits the two sides to discussing security doctrines, arms control, and confidence-building measures to ensure stability. See Toby Dalton, “Beyond Incrementalism: Rethinking Approaches to CBMs and Stability in South Asia,” in Deterrence Stability and Escalation Control in South Asia, ed. Michael Krepon and Julia Thompson (Washington, DC: Stimson Center, 2013), pp. 187-208.
5. For a comprehensive study of the nuclear strategies and force postures of India and Pakistan, see Vipin Narang, Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era: Regional Powers and International Conflict (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014).
6. The term “security trilemma” is attributed to Linton Brooks and Mira Rapp-Hooper. Linton Brooks and Mira Rapp-Hooper, “Extended Deterrence, Assurance, and Reassurance in the Pacific During the Second Nuclear Age,” in Strategic Asia 2013-2014: Asia in the Second Nuclear Age, ed. Ashley Tellis, Abraham Denmark, and Travis Tanner (Washington DC: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2013).
7. See Pierre Goldschmidt, “NSG Membership: A Criteria-Based Approach for Non-NPT States,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), May 24, 2011, http://carnegieendowment.org/2011/05/24/nsg-membership-criteria-based-approach-for-non-npt-states; Toby Dalton, Mark Hibbs, and George Perkovich, “A Criteria-Based Approach to Nuclear Cooperation With Pakistan,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Policy Outlook, June 22, 2011, http://carnegieendowment.org/files/nsg_criteria.pdf.
9. Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon, “A Normal Nuclear Pakistan,” Stimson Center and CEIP, 2015, http://carnegieendowment.org/files/NormalNuclearPakistan.pdf.
12. The latest Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) Nuclear Security Index has introduced two additional factors—sabotage and cybersecurity—in developing the index criteria. See “The 2016 NTI Nuclear Security Index: Theft and Sabotage,” n.d., http://ntiindex.org/behind-the-index/about-the-nti-index/.
14. For a detailed discussion of this issue, see Mark Hibbs, “Toward a Nuclear Suppliers Group Policy for States Not Party to the NPT,” CEIP, February 12, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/02/12/toward-nuclear-suppliers-group-policy-for-states-not-party-to-npt/itxg.
17. The incidents in 2011 involved CIA contractor Raymond Davis’ killing of two Pakistani citizens in January, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in May, and an accidental U.S. attack on a Pakistani military post on the Afghan border in November. For a detailed account, see Khan and French, “U.S.-Pakistan Nuclear Relations.”
18. David Ignatius, “The U.S. Cannot Afford to Forget Afghanistan and Pakistan,” The Washington Post, October 6, 2015; David Sanger, “U.S. Exploring Deal to Limit Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal,” The New York Times, October 15, 2015.
21. “Pakistan Developed Tactical Nukes to ‘Deter’ India: Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry,” Press Trust of India, October 20, 2015, http://indianexpress.com/article/world/neighbours/pakistan-developed-tactical-nukes-to-deter-india-aizaz-chaudhry/. See also “Pakistan With ‘Tactical Nukes’ Ready to Counter Indian Aggression: Aizaz,” The International News (Pakistan), October 20, 2015.
22. For a Pakistani perspective, see Mark Fitzpatrick, Overcoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers (citing Adil Sultan, “Pakistan’s Emerging Nuclear Posture: Impact of Drivers and Technology on Nuclear Doctrine,” Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, April 17, 2012). For U.S. perspectives, see David O. Smith, “The U.S. Experience With Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Lessons for South Asia” in Deterrence Stability and Escalation Control in South Asia, ed. Michael Krepon and Julia Thompson (Washington, DC: Henry L. Stimson Center, 2013), pp. 65-92; David J. Carl, “Pakistan’s Evolving Nuclear Weapons Posture,” The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 21, Nos. 3-4 (September-December 2014): 317-336.
23. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a regional organization led by China and Russia and involving six Central Asian states. Its objective is to enhance economic cooperation and combat terrorism, separatism, and extremism. For details, see Asia Regional Integration Center, “Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO),” n.d., https://aric.adb.org/initiative/shanghai-cooperation-organization.
Feroz Hassan Khan is a lecturer in the Department of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is a former director of arms control and disarmament in Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division and is the author of Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb (2012). The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not represent the position of any government.