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India and China both have a nuclear no-first-use policy- nuclear war between them is less likely

India–China border dispute: the curious incident of a nuclear dog that didn’t bark,  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Ramesh ThakurManpreet Sethi, September 7, 2020  On June 15, nuclear-armed China and India fought with fists, rocks, and clubs along the world’s longest un-demarcated and contested boundary. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed; Indian estimates put the Chinese dead at around 40. The two countries remain in a state of military standoff.

Like the case of the dog that didn’t bark, which interested the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, the nuclear dimension of the recent border clashes was conspicuous by its invisibility. This may be in part because of the nuclear no-first-use policy expressed in the official nuclear doctrines of both countries. At a time when geopolitical tensions are high in several potential nuclear theaters, the nuclear arms control architecture is crumbling, and a new nuclear arms race is revving, there is a critical need to look for ideas that can prevent potential crises from escalating. Other nuclear powers can learn from China’s and India’s nuclear policies.

The normalization of nuclear threats. Over the last few years, leaders of many of the nuclear weapons states have taken to nuclear bluster. After the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis and annexation of Crimea in 2014, facing hostile Western criticism, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointedly remarked, “Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations”—a subtle but clear nuclear warning to the West. In July 2016, asked in Parliament if she would be prepared to authorize a nuclear strike that could kill 100,000 people, British Prime Minister Theresa May unwaveringly answered, “Yes.” And who can forget the tit-for-tat exchange of belligerent rhetoric by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2017 before the blossoming of their bromance in 2018?

In February 2019, after an attack on Indian paramilitary forces at Pulwama led to a clash between the air forces of India and Pakistan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan warned of the possibility of a nuclear war. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, caught in the heat of an election campaign, responded that India’s nukes were not reserved for celebrating the fireworks festival of Diwali.   After India revoked Kashmir’s autonomous status that August, Khan reiterated that nuclear war was a real risk. His foreign minister repeated the warning in Geneva later that same year.

This rhetoric, besides being dangerous, has given rise to another problem. The more the leaders of the nuclear armed states revalidate the role of nuclear weapons in their national security, the more they embolden calls of nuclear weapons acquisition in other countries like GermanyJapanSouth Korea and Australia.

China and India’s nuclear reticence. This is where China and India, in the midst of a military crisis, provide a striking contrast. Neither side has drawn attention to its nuclear weapons in the 2020 border clashes. Nor have many analysts across the globe expressed alarm that the prolonged state of disquiet between the two could spiral out of control into a nuclear exchange……….

China, India, and no first use. An important dimension, however, that has been underestimated in explaining the two countries’ apparent nuclear sobriety is the similarity in their approach to nuclear weapons and deterrence.

They are the only two of the nine nuclear armed states with the stated commitment to a no-first-use policy, and the force postures to match. …….

In 2014, China and India called for negotiations on a no-first-use convention among the world’s nuclear powers. It might be time for the United States and other countries to give it a serious look. Indeed, the China–India border standoff demonstrates the practical utility of a nuclear policy centered on no-first-use and merits wider international attention.


September 8, 2020 - Posted by | China, India, politics international, weapons and war

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