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Nuclear proliferation in South Asia: more may not be better Bain, William W.


Most scholars and policy-makers hold the view that nuclear proliferation is inherently dangerous, while others, most notably Kenneth Waltz, view the slow spread of nuclear weapons as conducive to international peace and stability. This study is concerned with evaluating the rigor of Waltz's rather controversial perspective. Waltz's nuclear peace argument contains two significant errors: first, its neorealist theoretical foundation is blind to many aspiring nuclear powers and, second, Waltz mistakenly assumes that nuclear weapons necessarily enhance a state's overall security. These errors may be overcome by adopting a subsystemic unit of analysis in lieu of Waltz's systemic approach. Fully considering the exceptional characteristics of nuclear weapons suggests that nuclear weapons states are functionally different from non-nuclear weapons states, Waltz's notion of capabilities should disaggregated into discrete sectors, and nuclear weapons have qualitatively changed the basic character of the international system. Constructing a subsystem on the basis of differentiating states by their nuclear weapons status and by discerning patterns of nuclear proliferation driven strategic interaction yields an analytical unit which is cognizant of all states in the system, sensitive to the limitations of nuclear power, and is sustainable within the neorealist/structural realist perspective. This analytical approach is used to assess the impact of nuclear proliferation on peace and stability in a subsystem comprised of China, India, and Pakistan. It is evident that nuclear weapons do not alleviate the principal sources of insecurity which afflict these states. When considered in this South Asian context, Waltz's nuclear peace argument should be rejected in favor of more conventional approaches to nuclear nonproliferation.

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