India and Pakistan Nuclear Tests - Virtual Special Issue The Washington Quarterly

The Washington Quarterly

Twenty years ago this month, the world entered the Second Nuclear Age. On May 11, 1998, India conducted and declared three nuclear tests, and followed with two more on May 13; on May 28, Pakistan conducted and declared five of its own nuclear tests, adding a sixth for good measure on May 30.

The tests and subsequent declarations announced the arrival of two hostile, neighboring overt nuclear-weapon states—the first overt nuclear-weapon states in a generation, since China went nuclear in 1964. India and Pakistan subsequently fought each other just one year later in the 1999 Kargil War—the only armed conflict between two nuclear states other than the 1969 Sino-Soviet border conflict—and ensuing clashes after the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and 2016 skirmishes and India’s “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control.

As a global security journal providing diverse perspectives on strategic changes, trends, and relations around the world and their public policy implications, The Washington Quarterly focuses on topics ranging from global order, the U.S. role in the world, and rising powers such as China to nuclear security issues in countries such as Iran and North Korea. A recurring theme has been the nuclear-armed tensions between India and Pakistan as they continue to simmer and grow.

In light of the 20th anniversary of the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests, we are releasing this special virtual issue with enduring perspectives from expert authors from India and Pakistan, as well as the United States and Europe. Comprising ten articles, the special issue features six published in the last two years as multiple dimensions of the nuclear arms race have increased. The issue is grouped in these thematic sections:

  • The Nuclear Arms Race’s New Directions: Tactical, Defenses and Underwater

While Pakistan deploys tactical nuclear weapons and India tests and develops ballistic missile defenses, Pakistan’s March 2018 submarine-launched nuclear-capable cruise missile test is another indication that both India and Pakistan are moving toward deploying sea-based nuclear weapons. What risks do these new dimensions of a regional nuclear arms race raise? Might they even increase stability in the region? Authors Diana Wueger, Christopher Clary and Ankit Panda, India’s Arka Biswas and Pakistan’s Zafar Khan provide their views.

  • What Is India’s Nuclear Doctrine?

Particularly since 2010, questions have raged over the circumstances under which India might use its nuclear weapons and whether they are changing. India officially released a draft statement of its nuclear doctrine in 1999 and followed it with an official summary statement in 2003, but subsequent statements by various current and former officials and analysts have speculated over questions such as: does India interpret “no first-use” to mean it would use nuclear weapons only if attacked with nuclear weapons or that it might use them first against a nuclear-weapons state? Vipin Narang, India’s Debalina Ghoshal, as well as Pakistan’s Zulfqar Khan and Ahmad Khan detail their perspectives.

  • Pakistan’s Nuclear Risks

The world’s fastest-growing nuclear program has been in Pakistan, which by some estimates may be the third-largest nuclear state early next decade. Why is it building its nuclear weapons? When might it use them? Can Pakistan prevent terrorists from gaining access to nuclear materials or even bombs? C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly, Andrew Bast, and Shashank Joshi give their answers.

In the issues ahead, The Washington Quarterly will continue to provide diverse, expert assessments of the risks and opportunities at stake in the ongoing India-Pakistan nuclear arms race as well as other critical global security issues.

The Nuclear Arms Race’s New Directions: Tactical, Defenses and Underwater