Prospects for Stability in a WMD Environment

Rajesh Rajagopalan, Research Fellow, IDSA


As more and more countries acquire the technology to build weapons of mass destruction (WMD), as well as the means to deliver them, there is an increased concern about whether the new possessors will be responsible in their employment of these weapons. This concern has been heightened by the occasional combat-use of these weapons,1 such as Iraq's use of chemical weapons against the Kurds.

In this paper, I argue that such uses are aberrations. In general, we should expect WMD environments to be safe because mutual deterrence will operate as long as there is some minimal symmetry in capability between the adversaries.2 As is the case with one category of WMD, nuclear weapons, stability in the larger WMD environment will be affected not so much by the presence of these weapons but by the manner in which these weapons are sought to be used. WMD are not inherently unstable; but the strategies that determine their use can make a WMD environment unstable. Thus, in looking at the prospects for stability in a WMD environment, we would do well to focus on the strategies for WMD use rather than on the material capabilities of the adversaries.

In the first part of this essay, I look at whether it is possible to consider chemical, biological and nuclear weapons together, or if a distinction has to be made between nuclear weapons and chemical and biological weapons. Though much of this paper will deal with nuclear deterrence, I argue that the logic that applies to nuclear deterrence can also apply to the other two types of WMD.

The second section looks at the different approaches to stability in a nuclear environment. I look at two major deterrence approaches drawn from nuclear deterrence literature that might also be applicable to the WMD environment: deterrence by denial and deterrence by punishment. I argue that deterrence by punishment promised greater stability than deterrence by denial. In the third section, I look at where the nuclear deterrent strategies in South Asia fit within this two-fold division, and the resulting implication for nuclear stability in South Asia.

Deterrence and WMD

Should a distinction be made between nuclear deterrence and deterrence in the presence of chemical and biological weapons? Clearly, this would depend upon how deterrence operates in these two environments. One way to approach this question is to compare nuclear and conventional deterrence, where such a distinction can be made, and see if such a distinction applies between nuclear and chemical/biological deterrence.

There is obviously a fundamental differences between the operation of nuclear deterrence and conventional deterrence.3 Nevertheless, the distinction is not often made clear in deterrence literature.4 Much of deterrence theory treats the two types interchangeably. In an otherwise outstanding and path breaking contribution to the study of deterrence, for example, lessons from the failure of conventional deterrence efforts was held to have implications for Cold War US-Soviet nuclear deterrence relationship.5 One reason for the assumption of the commonality of both nuclear and conventional deterrence could have been because of the importance that American policy gave to the nuclear deterrence of conventional aggression during the early years of the Cold War.6 Another reason was the centrality of strategic nuclear deterrence during the Cold War period, which ensured high levels of scholarly study of conventional deterrence.7

The main difference between nuclear deterrence and conventional deterrence is that conventional deterrence tends to be far more difficult to achieve than nuclear deterrence. Kenneth Waltz has suggested several reasons why nuclear deterrence makes war less likely.8 First, in the presence of nuclear weapons, states will hesitate before pushing towards victory in war because the closer they come to victory, the greater the risk of nuclear retaliation by the losing side. Though war is still possible in the presence of nuclear weapons, "victory in war is too dangerous to fight for." In such circumstances, when "states can only score small gains, because large ones risk retaliation, they have little incentive to fight."9 Second, "states with less care if the expected costs of war are low and with more care if they are high."10 Third, nuclear weapons make it unnecessary to fight for increasing security, thus removing a major cause of insecurity among nations.

A critical distinction between nuclear and conventional deterrence that Waltz points out is that nuclear deterrence makes miscalculations of the military balance and the prospects for victory less likely. His explanation is instructive:

Uncertainty about outcomes does not work decisively against fighting wars in conventional worlds. Countries armed with conventional weapons go to war knowing that in defeat their suffering will be limited. Calculations about nuclear war are made differently…If countries armed with nuclear weapons go to war, they do so knowing that their suffering may be unlimited…In a conventional world, one is uncertain about winning or losing. In a nuclear world, one is uncertain about surviving or being annihilated.11

No such distinction exists between nuclear weapons and chemical and biological weapons. Though nuclear weapons do deliver "more bang for the buck", the prohibitions against chemical and biological weapons are stronger than those against nuclar weapons.12 Indeed, there are currently no accepted prohibitions against the use of nuclear weapons, unlike in the case of chemical and biological weapons. Though the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has suggested in its 1996 ruling that the nuclear weapon states (NWS) have a legal obligation to abolish nuclear weapons, this has hardly had any effect. The US, for one, has repeatedly dismissed the ICJ ruling as purely "advisory."13 With chemical and biological weapons (CBW), in addition to treaty obligation, there has also developed a complex set of norms that considers as "taboo" any use of these weapons because of the terrible nature of their effects.14

But it is not just the prohibitions that are important. Chemicals weapons have also proven to have a certain amount of deterrent capability in war. Despite, or may be because, of the horrendous example of the effects of chemical warfare, no side during World War II used their proven chemical weapons category.15 The restraint in this case in puzzling because at least two of the powers, Germany and Soviet Union, faced desperate military situations where the use of these weapons could have been militarily critical. But neither used them because ultimately, their use would have ensured certain retribution from the opposing side. In short, deterrence prevented the use of chemical weapons during World War II.16

There is, then, a good reason for considering nuclear, chemical and biological weapons together when considering the operation of deterrence. Though it must be acknowledged that nuclear deterrence has attracted greater attention than the other two categories of WMD, this might be seen as the consequence of the greater destructive power of nuclear weapons.17 But this should not come in the way of the application of deterrence theory in analysing stability in the inclusive WMD environment.

Denial vs. Punishment in Nuclear Deterrence Strategies18

Less than a year after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two books, Bernard Brodie's classic The Absolute Weapon and William Borden's lesser known work, There Will Be No Time, set out the broad outlines of the nuclear debate that continued through much of the Cold War.19 Brodie argued that because the actual use of nuclear weapons could not be harnessed to any meaningful military objective, the relation between weapons and war had been fundamentally altered. Borden, on the other hand, argued that while these weapons were revolutionary in their destructive potential and would change the way wars are fought, they were nevertheless ultimately weapons of war, and if they differed from other weapons, this was a difference of degrees rather than of kind.

Much later, these two contrasting ideas would be debated as the difference between deterrence by punishment and deterrence by denial.20 Briefly, deterrence by punishment seeks to prevent aggression by threatening unacceptable damage in retaliation, by the threat of punishment. The notion of deterrence by punishment was epitomised by the idea of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD): no matter how successfully one side launched a nuclear first strike, neither side would escape destruction.

Deterrence by denial is more complex. It is difficult to classify the denialists as deterrence theorists at all because at a very fundamental level the denials exhibit a profound mistrust in the possibility of deterrence. The logic of denial begins at the point when deterrence fails. Denialists assume that deterrence can fail, and they insist on the need to plan for that eventually. Indeed the true distinction might not be between deterrence by punishment and deterrence by denial but, as Glenn Snyder originally suggested, between deterrence and defence, because defence rather than deterrence is the true objective of the denialists.21 For the denialists, deterrencee is a concession to the nuclear age, but a concession that should not be carried too far. The devastation of nuclear war makes deterrence the first choice, but not an alternative to defence. Preparing for defence, even in the context of nuclear war, makes sense to the denialists because good defences reinforce deterrence while at the same time account for the possibility of the failure of deterrence. Denialists thus attempt to prevent aggression by convincing the aggressor through strong defences that such aggression would surely fail and that the aggressor would be defeated if he/she tried it. The 'victory theorists' of the 1970s, who argued that the United States should plan to fight and prevail in a nuclear war, provide the best example of such thinking during the Cold War nuclear confrontation. The difference should be clear: MAD suggested that the Soviet Union would be foolish to attack because nobody could possibly win a nuclear war, while victory theory proposed that the Soviet Union would not attack only if they were convinced that not only would they lose the war, but that the US would win it.

Though new wrinkles would be added to these approaches, and even new insights revealed, no radically different conception of nuclear deterrencee has emerged since Brodie and Borden produced their seminal works.22 Every nuclear power follows some versions of these two approaches.23 Some nuclear powers, the United States in particular, tended to oscillate between these approaches, the choice of approaches apparently dictated more by the changing fortunes of domestic politics rather than by any strategic imperative. In the case of the other nuclear powers (and arguably, even in the case of the US), scholars would debate inconclusively whether their nuclear strategies fit one or the other of these two approaches. Ultimately, these two approaches appear to have exhausted the possibilities of nuclear strategies, despite considerable effort by scholars and soldiers to find "new" ideas about nuclear deterrence.24

Denial vs. Punishment: The Implications for Stability

Achieving stability has been a central pursuit in any WMD environment. Stability, however, is not the same as peace. Indeed, stability is not even the absence of war. By stability, I simply mean the absence of the use of these weapons. Any factor that increases the chances of these weapons being used can be considered to be destabilising, and any factor that reduces this chance might be considered stabilising.

Some scholars have argued that defensive weapons make for greater stability because it reduces the security dilemma. By the same token, offensive weapons are supposed to increase the security dilemma and make war more likely.25 But this presumes that it is possible to make an a priori determination of the offensiveness or defensiveness of weapons. Though scholars have characterised certain weapons as offensive or defensive, it is more likely that it is the manner in which these weapons are used—the doctrine and strategy of the employment of these weapons—that are more important than the weapons themselves. For example, some historians have argued that much of the butchery of World War I was the consequence of European militaries failing to understand the defensive shift in military technology brought about by barbed-wire and rapid-fire guns.26 But, as the Indian Army found out in Kargil, the machine gun is also a potent weapon for well-planned aggression. Other examples abound. Surface-to-air and anti-tank missiles are quintessentially defensive weapons, but were used offensively to great effect by Egypt in the Yom Kippur War. The point is that weapons are neither entirely defensive, nor all offensive. Though some weapons might be more suited to one task than the other, it is the manner in which they are used that determines whether they are offensive or defensive.

Nuclear weapons illustrate this problem well. Despite a half-century of acrimonious debate among American civilian nuclear theorists, deep division remains about the nature of these weapons as essentially a defensive weapon. McGeorge Bundy, drawing on his experience during the Cuban missile crisis, carried this theme further, arguing that the presence of nuclear weapons was enough to prevent war, a notion that became known as existential deterrence.27 Even earlier, Kenneth Waltz, following the same logic, suggested that the spread of nuclear weapons will ensure greater peace in conflict ridden regions.28 When the Cold War ended, other theorists proposed selective nuclear proliferation as a means of ensuring peace.29 Common to all these arguments was the belief that nuclear weapons are the ideal defensive weapon.

Others have not been as sanguine about the defensive nature of nuclear weapons. For the "victory theorists" of the 1970s, nuclear weapons had enormous offensive potential in the wrong hands. They argued that not just fighting but winning was possible in a nuclear war.30 Because they thought that victory was possible, they insisted that the US government plan for it, both by undertaking defensive measures to reduce the damage from any nuclear attack and by using nuclear weapons to ensure, in the memorable words of Colin Gray, "the forcible demise of the Soviet state."31

If this inconclusive debate should make us wary of characterising the defensiveness or otherwise of nuclear weapons, it should also point out to us that the real difference is not so much the quality of the weapons, but the manner in which these are to be employed—the strategy that determines how these weapons are actually used. As with any other weapon, nuclear weapons and other WMD can be either a force for stability or, equally, for instability. The determination of the likelihood of their combat-use, the definition I had suggested earlier for stability, is not inherent in the weapons themselves. That determination lies in the strategy that is adopted for these weapons.

Considered thus, it is difficult to overlook the destabilising nature of denial strategies. Denial strategies increase the likelihood that these weapons will be used. Likewise, punishment strategies tend to be stabilising because they decrease the likelihood that these weapons will be used.

Denial strategies start with the assumption that deterrence will break down, either by design (through aggression) or through any number of accidents. The solution then, as the denialists see it, is to prepare for the eventual war. Since at least one way—and during the Cold War, most denialists assumed that this was the dominant threat—in which deterrence might break down was through deliberate aggression, their dominant concern was with fighting a nuclear war under conditions of planned aggression. Once the possibility of a planned nuclear aggression was assumed, the primary concern was with the vulnerabilities that might make such an aggression succeed. In the US, this concern can be traced back to the mid-1950s, beginning with the anxiety about the vulnerability of bomber bases, and subsequent concerns of the Gaither Committee Report and the missile and bomber gap controversies. Such concerns would also be a big part of the "window of vulnerability" debate in the 1970s.

The solution to such vulnerabilities invariably were both better defences to prevent a successful enemy first-strike, and better offensive weapons to win the ensuing war. But the combination of these several components also made such nuclear forces extremely potent, and risked starting the very war that such preparations were designed to avoid. For example, the combination of reasonably good American strategic defences and a war-fighting capability would be considered a serious threat by the Soviet Union. This was the classical security dilemma of international politics, but in this case it would involve nuclear weapons. The denial strategies thus created the very dangers that deterrence was designed to prevent.

Deterrence by punishment started with the contrary assumption, that wars in which nuclear weapons were used would be unusually difficult to win, even if such nuclear use was on a very limited scale. The costs of victory were so disproportionate that no state would intentionally risk starting such a venture. The costs were sufficiently large that indeed most states, once they acquire nuclear weapons, would brandish their capabilities with great circumspection. Caution, as Waltz has suggested, becomes the defining principle of nuclear armed powers. Thus nuclear armed powers learn quickly that brinkmanship strategies of the conventional world are dangerous when the adversaries are armed with nuclear weapons. Measures to ensure stability and mutual confidence become more prominent. Mutual vulnerability becomes a way of preventing mutual destruction.

Prospects for Nuclear Stability in South Asia

The nuclear situation in South Asia clearly illustrates the differences between the stability of deterrence by punishment and the instability caused by denial strategies. India has publicly, and clearly, taken the road to stability by a nuclear strategy that emphasises deterrence by punishment. China, which has similarly taken public position on its nuclear policy, had also adopted such a strategy at the very beginning. However, there are indications that China is today flirting with more dangerous and destabilising denial strategies. Pakistan's position is less clear. Though it has not made any specific statement of its nuclear policy, pulling together various scattered references on the subject permits us to examine its broad outlines. As it stands, Pakistan's policy appears closer to a denial strategy than a punishment strategy, with all the attendant risks and instability.

India's nuclear strategy, as suggested, is based on the principle of deterrence by punishment. The strategy has been enunciated in several different places, such as in the document The Evolution of India's Nuclear Policy, laid on the table of the parliament on May 27, 1998.32 Other subsequent statements and documents have clarified and elaborated on the themes set out in this earlier statement.33

There are three major elements of India's nuclear policy: the no-first use of nuclear weapons, the non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries, and a commitment to build a minimum credible nuclear deterrent.34 The first is the no-first use pledge: India, as the above document makes clear, does not intend to use nuclear weapons first against any country. Indeed, in subsequent statements, that element has been furtheer strengthened. The prime minister clarified in parliament that the NFU pledge is not dependent on any new negotiated treaty; it is a unilateral pledge, though India has also exhorted the other nuclear powers to make a similar commitment.35

The NFU pledge has several implications, and reveals more about the Indian thinking on nuclear strategy than might appear at first sight. First, the NFU pledge is a clear indication that India does not believe in nuclear war-fighting strategies, which is the practical outcome of the notion of deterrence by denial. The Indian policy is based on the strongly held belief that nuclear weapons cannot and should not be employed in combat. The only task of the Indian nuclear deterrent is, as the prime minister stated in parliament, to "ensure that India is not subjected to nucler threats and coercion."36 This statement itself carries an important implication. India's nuclear deterrent operates only in the context of a nuclear threat. In other words, the nuclear deterrent has no utility, and is irrelevant, in a context of a purely conventional conflict, war or threat of war.

Second, the NFU pledge implicitly accepts that Indian nuclear forces will only be used in retaliation. The blanket NFU pledge does not permit even pre-emptive attacks. Thus, even in the face of clear signs of impending attack, the policy implies that India will wait for the enemy to strike first.

Third, a strategy that emphasises retaliation is based on the notion of punishment. This is as true of the Indian nuclear deterrent as it is of any other nuclear deterrent force that is based on such policy. Once an enemy has struck with nuclear weapons, the only objective for retaliation can be to punish the enemy because deterrence has already failed. The threat of retaliation and punishment deters only before a first stike; the fact that the first strike took place at all signifies the failure of deterrence. Implicit in the threat of punishment is the assumption that the threat is serious enough to be credible.

The second element of the policy, the non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries is implicit in the first element. Simply put, if India does not plan to use nuclear weapons first, then, logically, it would be impossible for India to use nuclear weapons intentionally against a non-nuclear country.

The third element of the policy is to build a credible, minimum deterrent nuclear force. This has become the most controversial element of the policy, primarily because India has left undefined what the material implications are of a force that presents a credible minimum deterrence. India has rejected repeated American demands to "quantify" the nuclear deterrent.37 The stated reason is clear: since credible deterrence depends on whom and what is to be deterred, no permanent quantification can be made. But India's refusal can also be surmised to rest on two other unstated factors: one, the fear that if India does quantify the deterrent, then the quantity itself becomes an issue of negotiation. For example, if India were to state, hypothetically, that India planned to build 20 international ballistic missiles (ICBM), 40 intermediate range ballistic missiles etc., there is bound to be pressure to reduce or even eliminate certain categories of these weapons. The second reason could be that once a certain quantity is specified, it will become difficult to change the quantity subsequently without implications for nuclear stability. Maintaining a flexible number prevents both these dangers. There could also be yet another reason, a strategic one, for India's reticence. Refusing to reveal the total numbers of warheads and delivery systems adds immensely to the strength of the Indian deterrent because it adds to the uncertainties of anyone planning a nuclear first-strike on India. The greater such uncertainty, the lesser the confidence that any planner would have in achieving a successful first-strike against India and consequently the stronger the Indian deterrent posture.

Another element in the building of a minimum credible nuclear deterrent force is the need for a survivable command and control system for the nuclear force. Considering that the Indian nuclear strategy depends on the robustness of its second-strike capability, there is a high premium on establishing survivable forces and command and control facilities. There are a variety of ways of doing this, but both in terms of cost and in terms of the ease of setting this up, following established systems are probably the most appropriate.38 It must also be recognised that a second-strike system which serves a minimum deterrent force as planned by India does not require the elaborate systems set up by the superpowers during the Cold War period because much of that system was required by the need for high-speed response to a nuclear attack. In the Indian case, speed is not as critical. What is more important is to be certain that an attack has been launched on India, before a retaliation is ordered. These factors will reduce the demand on any command and control system that India requires, while at the same time increasing political control over nuclear weapons and reducing chances of inadvertent and accidental use of nuclear weapons.

The Indian nuclear strategy, based on deterrence by punishment, thus has several elements that can promote stability. In particular, the emphasis on minimum numbers, the insistence on secure and firmly controlled second-strike forces and the low-burden command and control requirements all combine to reduce the threat that other nuclear states in the region should feel from the Indian force, while at the same time providing India with required deterrent capability.

But stability is also dependent on the nuclear forces in India's neighbourhood. If there is the danger of nuclear instability in South Asia, it comes principally from Pakistan's nuclear doctrine, which emphasises war-fighting rather than deterrence. Pakistan's doctrine emphasises the first use of nuclear weapons, and Pakistan has repeatedly rejected calls for an NFU pledge, pointing to what they consider as India's superior conventional capability.39 Indeed, Pakistani leaders have repeatedly called for conventional arms control as an essential part of any nuclear deal.40 This appears to be a continuation of the offensive orientation of Pakistan's conventional military doctrine, but with a more dangerous nuclear twist.

A doctrine that emphasises the first use of nuclear weapons is inherently more dangerous because Pakistan will need to keep its nuclear forces, small though they might be, in a constant state of readiness. Moreover, there is little doubt who Pakistan's target is: last July, the then Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan threatened that "any aggression on us from any side will be met with merciless reprisal response against India."41 Pakistan would also need to acquire all the paraphernalia required for such a doctrine and force posture, such as early warning and command and control systems. Existing Pakistani capabilities in this area leave a lot to be desired: they were unable to detect the dozens of American cruise missiles that violated Pakistani airspace during the American assault on terrorist camps in Afghanistan. On the other hand, they "detected" non-existent Indo-Israeli attack preparations the night before the Pakistani nuclear tests. Such incompetence, married to a dangerous first-use doctrine, should be cause for serious concern.

Another possible emerging uncertainty about nuclear stability in South Asia comes from the changes in Chinese nuclear doctrine.42 Chinese nuclear forces are undergoing rapid change and modernisation.43 Chinese nuclear doctrine also appears to be changing, though the secrecy surrounding Chinese nuclear forces make it difficult to come to any definitive conclusions.44 Chinese nuclear doctrine traditionally had stated that China would not be the first to use nuclear weapons. This blanket NFU pledge had been at the heart of the Chinese doctrine.45 But China appears to have introduced caveats in its NFU pledge. For example, according to some reports, Chinese representatives at UN disarmament talks have argued that the NFU pledge does not apply to Taiwan since Taiwan is Chinese territory.46 This introduces an uncertain new element: China has large claims on both India as well as on the South China Sea. By this formulation, the NFU pledge might not apply in conflicts in these areas also.47 Another traditional element in the Chinese nuclear doctrine has been the concept of a minimum deterrent, which China contrasted with the large, warfighting-oriented nuclear forces of the superpowers ("maximum deterrent").48 But beginning in 1987, Chinese thinking has moved towards a "limited" deterrent doctrine, which supposedly falls between the maximum and minimum deterrent doctrines.49 Though it is unclear if this new thinking is now an official doctrine, it includes a limited war-fighting capability, and the Chinese emphasis on increasing the accuracy of their missiles appears designed to give Chinese nuclear forces the capability to back up this doctrine.50 China might also be giving greater emphasis to tactical nuclear war-fighting doctrines: during the 1996 round of Chinese missile firings around Taiwan, the missiles are fired by the Second Artillery, which controls China's strategic missiles.51 Though some interpretations suggest that the Second Artillery is developing a conventional role,52 an equally plausible explanation is that China is seriously considering the possibility of fighting, rather than deterring, nuclear wars. This fits well with the increasing emphasis in internal Chinese nuclear strategy debate about the need to prepare to fight an actual nuclear war.53


Stability in a WMD environment has to be examined not so much in terms of the weapons involved or the opposing capabilities, but in terms of the strategy that exploit to such capabilities. Weak capabilities, or lopsided balances in capabilities for that matter, do not necessarily guarantee stability, nor do higher capability levels or balanced capability lead to instability. A state with weak capabilities and a dangerous strategy can present greater dangers in a WMD environment than a strong state with more defensive strategies. Ultimately, however, the destructive potential of WMD are so great that whatever the original intent, most possessors are forced to adopt more prudent policies, thus ensuring greater stability.



1. Since weapons can also be 'used' for deterrence, there is a distinction between deterrent-use and combat-use weapons. This distinction is prominent in WMD but less clear in the case of conventional weapons because deterrence is not as important an objective of conventional weapons.

2. By minimal symmetry, I mean situation in which both adversaries have WMD capability. I do not mean that adversaries have to have symmetry in the quantity and quality of their WMD capability.

3. One of the clearest statements of this distinction was made by Kenneth Waltz. See, Kenneth N. Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Be Better, Adelphi Paper No. 171 (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1981), pp. 4-7.

4. In contrast to the huge literature on nuclear deterrence, John Mearsheimer's seminal work is still one of the few attempt at looking at conventional deterrence. See, John Mearsheimer, Conventional Deterrence (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987).

5. Robert Jervis, Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein, Psychology and Deterrence (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985). See in particular the concluding essay by Richard Ned Lebow, pp. 203-232.

6. Alexander L. George and Richard Smoke, Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974), pp. 32-34.

7. Ibid., p. 41.

8. Waltz, n. 3, pp. 5-6.

9. Ibid., p. 5.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Meichael Mandelbaum, The Nuclear Revolution: International Politics Before and After Hiroshima (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981), pp. 23-49.

13. Rebecca Johnson, "UN First Committee Condemns Nuclear Testing, Backs Fissban Negotiations and Seeks A "New Agenda" on Nuclear Disarmament", Disarmament Diplomacy 32 (November 1998) at

14. Richard Price brilliantly chronicles the evolution of this norm in the case of chemical weapons. See, Richard M. Price, The Chemical Weapons Taboo (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997).

15. Jeffry W. Legro, Cooperation Under Fire: Anglo-German Restraint During World War II (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995). See, in particular, chapter 4, pp. 144-216.

16. Legro tends to give much weight to organisational cultural factors in expalining the restraint of the various powers, with which I disagree. But he acknowledges that in the German case at least, deterrence was the primary factor. Ibid., p. 201.

17. Madelbaum, n. 12, pp. 45-47.

18. Parts of this section are borrowed from an earlier essay. See, Rajesh Rajagopalan, "Nuclear Strategy and Small Nuclear Forces: The Conceptual Components," Strategic Analysis, vol. XXIII, October 1999, pp. 1117-31.

19. Bernard Brodie, The Absolute Weapon (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1946); William Borden, There Will Be No Time: The Revolution in Strategy (New York: Macmillan, 1946).

20. Barry Buzan, among others, denies that any such distinction exists, arguing that the real distinction is between deterrence and compellence. See Barry Buzan, An Introduction to Strategic Studies: Military Technology and International Relations (London: Macmillan/International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1987), p. 135.

21. Glenn Snyder, Deterrence and Defence: Towards A Theory of National Security (Princeton: Princeton Unviersity Press, 1961).

22. A useful overview of the evolution of the nuclear debate can be found in Robert Jervis, "Deterrence Theory Revisited," World Politics, vol. 31, no. 2, January 1979, pp. 289-324.

23. A third approach to nuclear deterrence, existential deterrence, is less relevant here, because it has been favoured more by political scientists than by policy-makers. For a more elaborate exploration of existential deterrence, see Rajagopalan, n. 18, pp. 1122-25.

24. Robert Jervis, "Strategic Theory: What's New and What's True," Journal of Strategic Studies, vol. 9, no. 4, December 1986, pp. 135-62.

25. Robert Jervis, "Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma," World Politics, vol. 30, no. 2, January 1978, pp. 186-214.

26. Jack Snyder, The Ideology of the Offensive: Military Decision Making and the Disasters of 1914 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988).

27. McGeorge Bundy, Danger and Survival: Choice About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years (New York: Random House, 1988).

28. Waltz, n. 3, Waltz, however, is careful to make the caveat that such an effect will occur only if nuclear weapons are mated with an appropriate, defensive, doctrine.

29. John J. Mearsheimer, "The Case for a Ukarainian Nuclear Deterrent," Foreign Affairs, vol. 72, no. 3.

30. Colin S. Gray, "Nuclear Strategy: The Case for A Theory of Victory", International Security, vol. 4, no. 1, Summer 1979; and Richard Pipes, "Why the Soviet Union Thinks It can Fight and Win A Nuclear War," Commentary, vol. 64, no. 1, July 1977.

31. Gray, n.30.

32. Government of India, Paper Laid on the Table of the House on Evolution of India's Nuclear Policy, available at>

33. See the Draft Report of the National Security Advisory Board on the Indian Nuclear Doctrine, available at>

34. These three elements were reiterated by the prime minister in parliament on April 11, 1999. See, "Address to the Nation by Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee" available at>

35. "PM Declares No First Strike," Indian Express, August 5, 1998.

36. "Suo Moto statement by Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee in Parliament on May 27, 1998" available at

37. "India rejects US demand on nuclear deterrence," The Hindu, February 8, 1999.

38. Jasjit Singh, "Nuclear Command and Control," paper presented at the Conference on Nuclear Deterrence, Army Training Command, Pune, September 7, 1998.

39. Statement by Ambassador Munir Akram at Special Session of the Conference on Disarmament on June 2, 1998, available at>

40. See Pakistan Mission to the United Nations, New York, "Address by H.E. Mr. Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly, on Septmeber 23, 1998," available at>

41. "Gohar: N-Arms Enhancement Will Lead to War," The Hindustan Times, July 16, 1998. The story was based on an interview that Khan gave to the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram.

42. The following section is based on an earlier essay. See, Rajesh Rajagopalan, "The Expanding Purposes of Nuclear Deterrence," in Jasjit Singh (ed.) Asian Security in the 21st Century (New Delhi: IDSA/Knowledge World, 1999), pp. 101-118.

43. Though a decade old, the standard work on the development of the Chinese nuclear arsenal remains John Wilson Lewis and Xue Litai's China Builds the Bomb (California: Stanford University Press, 1988). For a more recent overview of the Chinese nuclear forces, see Alastair Iain Johnston, "Prospects for Chinese Nuclear Force Modernisation: Limited Deterrence versus Multilateral Arms Control," The China Quarterly, 146, June 1996, pp. 548-576.

44. Even the number of Chinese nuclear warheads are in dispute. Though the generally accepted figure is around 400, one report suggests that China might have as many as 2350 warheads, which includes 550 tactical warheads and as many as 1800 strategic warheads. See these estimates at <>

45. For a Chinese view of the pledge, see Liu Huaqiu, "No first Use and China's Security," at>

46. Michael Nacht and Tom Woodrow, "Nuclear Issues", in Hans Binnendijk and Ronald N. Montaperto, eds., Strategic Trends in China (Washington DC: Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defence University, 1998) at

47. Swaran Singh, "China's Nuclear Weapons and Doctrine," in Jasjit Singh ed., Nuclear India (New Delhi: IDSA/Knowedge World, 1998), 152-153.

48. Johnston, n. 43, pp. 553-555.

49. Ibid., and "Chinese Special Weapons Doctrine," Federation of American Scientists, at>

50. For an overview of Chinese missile modernisation efforts, see M.V. Rappai, "China's Missile Modernisation," in Singh, ed., Nuclear India, pp. 209-30. On the Chinese emphasis on accuracy, see, Yang Huan, "China's Strategic Nuclear Weapons," in Michael Pillsbury, ed., Chinese View of Future Warfare (Washington, DC: Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defence University, n.d.) at <> James A. Sands, Evolution of China's Nuclear Capability: Implications for US Policy (Alabama: Air War College, 1995) at <, pdf> and Bill Gertz, "Chinese Missiles to Threaten US by 2000," Washington Times, May 23, 1997.

51. Nacht and Woodrow, "Nuclear Issues."

52. Ibid.

53. This internal debate is well captured in Johnston, n. 43, lpp. 555-558.