Introduction – Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Special Issue

by Rouben Azizian & Lora Saalman1

Published in National Security Journal, 01 March 2022

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This special issue of the National Security Journal assembles a group of prominent political, military, technical and academic experts from Australia, China, India, Pakistan, Russia and the United States to analyse regional nuclear challenges in South Asia. Given the complexity of these issues and polarisation of political and theoretical perspectives on the causes of the regional nuclear dilemma, the essays vary in their assessments. However, there is also strong agreement among the authors that nuclear challenges are highly destabilising—not just in the regional context in South Asia—but also globally. Their analyses reveal that previous frameworks need to be updated to address the emergence of new factors and actors. The following offers a brief overview of key points from the essays contained in this volume.

South Asia retains an important position in the game of major powers both shaping and being shaped by the international order. In comparison to the Cold War experience between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the India-Pakistan and India-China nuclear dyads have the potential to shift from proxy conflict to that of more direct conflict. While both the USSR and the United States maintained a naval presence in the Indian Ocean, this marked a secondary theatre of operations. By contrast, now that the Indian Ocean region is part of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy, the likelihood of China-United States confrontation in the region is growing with spill over effects on countries like India and Pakistan.

1 Dr Rouben Azizian is the Director and Professor of the Massey University’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies and the Editor-in-Chief of the National Security Journal. Dr Lora Saalman is co-editor of this special issue of the journal. She is an Associate Senior Fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the East-West Center and a Member of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.