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Catering to Insecurity Dilemmas

Happymon Jacob

By Arvind Gupta and K.D. Kapur
Lancers Books, New Delhi, 2012, pp.432, Rs.895.00


Nuclear weapons are here to stay in spite of the ‘global Zero’ initiative, enthusiastic support given to the ‘zero’ movement by US President Barack Obama, and the ever-increasing amount of international efforts that are under way to disarm nuclear weapons. The likely ‘prolonged existence’ of nuclear weapons in Asia is primarily due to the various inter-state conflicts and balance of power games in the region. It is also due to the perceived energy potential provided by nuclear technology. Moreover, there is yet another important reason nuclear weapons might live longer in the Asian region: Asia is home to many weak powers and weak powers today perceive nuclear weapons as a source of a certain level of security guarantee. In other words, nuclear weapons seem to be catering to the insecurity dilemmas of Asia’s insecure countries, be they Pakistan, India, China, North Korea or Iran. Given the fact that nuclear power could potentially provide major Asian states with energy and security guarantees, there is an equally important need for informed debates and studies on nuclear issues in these countries. The book under review edited by Gupta and Kapur, both based at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses, is a very good addition to the growing literature on Asian nuclear order.The book also gains significance from the fact that India is currently witnessing a nuclear renaissance. Kapur and Gupta have done justice to the theme by bringing together a great amount of expertise and in-depth research in a single volume. Most of the important aspects of the Asian nuclear order have been succinctly discussed. There is, however, a tendency to unquestioningly buy the official narratives on the Indian nuclear history and evolution. The authors do not seem to find ambiguities or double-talk in the various stances that India adopted at various points of time on nuclear issues: take for example, the ‘Rajiv Gandhi action plan for a nuclear-weapons-free and non-violent world order’, a plan that recommends complete global disarmament, a noble objective at that. However, India was also developing nuclear weapons at the same time that it was preparing and proposing the disarmament plan at the UN and claiming that it would never develop nuclear weapons, and we have known that for many years now. It is also true that India has often diverted nuclear technology that it received from foreign powers meant for civilian purposes to military purposes. ...

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