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International response to nuclear tests in South Asia : the need for a new policy framework

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Publication Date: January 1998

Publisher(s): East-West Center

Author(s): Muthiah Alagappa

Series: AsiaPacific issues ; no. 38

Topic: International relations (International peace and security)
Military and defense (Military equipment and weapons)

Type: Report


International response to recent nuclear tests by India and Pakistan have been dominated by two policy frameworks: one rooted in considerations of the non-proliferation regime and the other in the belief that the Indo-Pakistani rivalry is the main determinant of security and stability in South Asia. Neither framework, however, is an adequate basis for long-term policy. The first diverts attention from the more important goals of reducing tensions, averting a nuclear-arms race, minimizing the prospects of accidental war, and ensuring nuclear safety. The second obscures important implications of the tests, especially those for the crucial Sino-Indian security dynamic. A new framework is needed, one whose primary goal is security and stability in South Asia. It would accept the nuclear status of India and Pakistan, view security in South Asia in a broad context, and incorporate arms control measures including non-proliferation. The effective pursuit of policies rooted in this framework requires the engagement of India and Pakistan by the international community, not their isolation through sanctions.