On November 23, China announced the establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over disputed parts of the East China Sea and declared that it would scramble “emergency defense responses” to aircraft that entered the zone without first informing China. Several countries in the region expressed immediate outrage, and the ADIZ became a major topic during Vice President Joseph Biden’s three-leg tour to Asia.
As tensions heat up, this Policy Alert examines the reactions of China, Japan, South Korea, and India to these emerging developments.
Chinese editorials uniformly supported establishment of the ADIZ as “defensive” in nature while simultaneously lambasting Japan and the United States for holding double standards in their views of air defense identification zones: (more…)Continue Reading →
Negotiators from Iran and the so-called P5+1 powers – the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany – announced on November 24 that they reached a deal to address suspicions over Iran’s nuclear activities. In exchange for Iran freezing key elements of its nuclear program, the P5+1 offered $4.2 billion in foreign exchange and to ease some sanctions on Iranian energy and economic sectors for the next six months. The deal aims to be a sign of good faith between all parties as talks on a broader permanent deal continue.
This announcement sparked a dialogue within countries in Asia with their own varying levels of nuclear capacity. Since Iran’s primary foreign buyers of its oil are China, South Korea, Taiwan, India, and Japan, the agreement provides additional avenues for increased energy trade between Asia and Iran. However, the deal also opens up questions about the intersections of nuclear energy, nonproliferation policies, and regional security in Asia. In this Nuclear Debates in Asia Digest by Timothy Westmyer, research and program assistant at RPI, we explore how countries in our Nuclear Debates in Asia project – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam – reacted to the Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal and how they are addressing these pressing questions.
China, India, South Korea, and Thailand were among countries which recently received a waiver from U.S. sanctions targeting countries that import Iranian crude oil because these countries have reduced their dependence on Iranian supplies over the past several months. They will be allowed to continue to purchase Iranian oil over the next 180 days without penalties.
China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, said the agreement “will help to uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation system [and] safeguard peace and stability in the Middle East.”
Nuclear issues in Central Asia are driven by two competing forces. On one hand, Central Asian nations must manage the challenging legacy of the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons activities in the region, including radiated landscapes scarred by nuclear testing and orphaned stockpiles of warheads and material. On the other hand, however, Central Asia strives to create a forward looking path as a leader promoting the peaceful use of nuclear technologies as well as strengthening the non-proliferation regime.
On November 14, 2013, George Washington University’s Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies’ Central Asia Program and Sigur Center for Asian Studies’ Rising Powers Initiative co-sponsored a conference on “Central Asia, Iran, and the Nuclear Landscape in Asia.” Experts discussed the role of nuclear issues for countries in Central Asia, the status of programs in established nuclear powers such as China, India, and Japan, and the links developing between these countries. This blog post provides highlights from the event as they relate to the Rising Powers Initiative’s Nuclear Debates in Asia project.Continue Reading →
On November 5, 2013, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched its first unmanned Mars-bound spacecraft Mangalyaan. If the mission succeeds, India will become the first Asian nation to follow the United States, Russia, and Europe in conducting a successful Mars expedition. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentaries from India, China, Russia, and Brazil on the implications of this new development.
Soon after the successful launch of Mangalyaan, congratulatory notes started pouring in from political leaders, praising the ISRO and its scientists. (more…)Continue Reading →
Christopher Clary, a participant in RPI’s Nuclear Debates in Asia project and a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently wrote an essay for The Stimson Center titled “Deterrence Stability and the Conventional Balance of Forces in South Asia“ where he argued that the traditionally held notion that India holds an overwhelming conventional superiority over Pakistan is — for the time being — overstated. Clary concludes, however, that India’s conventional modernization efforts will continue to outpace Pakistan,and that the primary challenge is “how to manage this transition from a regime where conventional and nuclear deterrence operate, to one in which Pakistan is primarily reliant on its nuclear arsenal.”
Here are some highlights from his report:
On the unquestioned assumption of India’s conventional superiority:
India’s considerable military edge over Pakistan is normally taken as a given, from which analysts typically focus on how Indian political and military leaders might employ military force and whether they would accidentally cross a Pakistani “redline.” Within Pakistan, analysts scrutinize whether and how its leadership would choose to employ nuclear weapons (or threats of their use) in the face of impending Indian conventional military victory. Often this assumption—jumping to the end of the story—is justified by pointing to past precedent. After all, India has not lost any of its four wars with Pakistan. Even some within Pakistan occasionally jest that “the Pakistan Army is the best army to have never won a war.” At a certain level of abstraction, these historical references are certainly true, but past conflicts tell us very little about the contours of a future fight.
On the most likely scenario for future large-scale conflict between India and Pakistan:
The standard template, then, for most analysts concerned about uncontrolled escalation in South Asia is that a future India-Pakistan conflict will begin with a major terrorist attack in India that can be traced back to Pakistan. The December 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament and the November 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai are archetypical examples of possible triggers of conflict. A third attack, the coordinated bombing of the Mumbai commuter rail system on July 11, 2006, also merits inclusion as an example of a possible initiator of unintended conflict, since these attacks were stunningly effective, killing 209 and injuring 900 more.
Notably, none of these despicable attacks triggered an actual war or even limited hostilities between the two militaries. One could nonetheless imagine, under plausible scenarios, that certain mass casualty acts against iconic targets might lead to a decision by a future Indian Cabinet Committee on Security to initiate hostilities against Pakistan. (more…)Continue Reading →
In 2012, the Rising Powers Initiative published an edited volume entitled Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in China, India, Iran, Japan, and Russia, edited by Henry R. Nau and Deepa M. Ollapally. The Worldviews volume identifies the most important domestic schools of thought within each country and connects them to the history and institutional development of each nation. In this Policy Brief, Russia chapter author Andrew Kuchins examines how Russia’s foreign policy has evolved over the past two years from the lens of President Vladimir Putin’s leadership, conflict in the Middle East, and U.S.-Russia relations.
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Rajesh Rajagopalan, a participant in RPI’s Nuclear Debates in Asia and Worldviews of Aspiring Powersprojects and professor in International Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, recently wrote an op-ed for The Economic Times where he argued that India’s strategic nonalignment strategy and its strict liability law on nuclear energy plants built by foreign companies in India severely hamper New Delhi’s foreign policy options toward China, Russia, the United States, and others:
Over the next few days, PM Manmohan Singh will summit with the leaders of Russia and China. Along with his recent meeting with US President Barack Obama, it completes a trifecta of sorts. Unfortunately, in this great power trifecta, India appears to have neither skill nor luck. At the end of his term, the PM has the unenviable task of trying to climb out of the strategic hole into which we have dug ourselves.
The Moscow summit should have been easy. India and Russia have long had close strategic ties, which though frayed sometimes by India’s recent closeness to Washington, still remains strong. Much of India’s military equipment still comes from Russia, and it has been a stalwart supporter of India in many international forums, including the NSG when it decided to change rules to allow India access to international nuclear commerce. Moscow hoped to benefit from that change by selling India nuclear power reactors.
But that hope was seriously dented by India’s nuclear liability bill, which threatened to slap equipment suppliers like Russia with liability for possible accidents. Though much of the nuclear liability debate in India was about the impact on US, the law is applicable to all suppliers, including Russia. Over the last two years, the Indian government has tried to make amends by proposing a variety of stratagems to reduce supplier liability, but it has yet to convince anyone, including Moscow, that these will work.
The latest effort revolves around Indian public sector insurers possibly providing insurance to suppliers, which defeats the purpose of the law because these will be underwritten by the Indian taxpayer. Of course, it is not clear that this is acceptable to Moscow, so the PM has a difficult task in convincing the Russians. But this was all unnecessary, a striking example of New Delhi’s propensity to shoot itself in the foot. (more…)Continue Reading →
The United States’ prolonged budget upheaval has cast doubts on America’s role as a leader in Asia. Would a decline in U.S. power create new opportunities for Chinese leadership in Asia? In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, India, Japan, and South Korea on the prospects of a potential leadership reconfiguration in Asia in light of ongoing U.S. domestic struggles.
In China, newspapers uniformly criticized the United States for failing to quickly resolve the government shutdown and called on China to reduce its dependence on the U.S. economy. (more…)Continue Reading →
On October 1, the U.S. government shutdown for the first time in seventeen years, generating enormous anxieties over a potential default on U.S. debts and its consequences for the world economy and U.S. foreign policy. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, India, Japan, and South Korea on the U.S. government shutdown.
Chinese newspapers focused on the October 17 debt ceiling deadline, calling on the United States to resolve the government gridlock and ensure the safety of China’s investments in the U.S. (more…)Continue Reading →