This important book analyzes nuclear weapon and energy policies in Asia, a region at risk for high-stakes military competition, conflict, and terrorism. The contributors explore the trajectory of debates over nuclear energy, security, and nonproliferation in key countries—China, India, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and other states in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Arguing against conventional wisdom, the contributors make a convincing case that domestic variables are far more powerful than external factors in shaping nuclear decision making. The book explores what drives debates and how decisions are framed, the interplay between domestic dynamics and geopolitical calculations in the discourse, where the center of gravity of debates lies in each country, and what this means for regional cooperation or competition and U.S. nuclear energy and nonproliferation policy in Asia.

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  • Mike M. Mochizuki holds the Japan-U.S. Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University
  • Deepa M. Ollapally is research professor of international affairs and the associate director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University

Reviews of the Book:

For those of us struggling to understand and anticipate the future of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons programs in Asia, this deeply insightful and timely book reveals the critical role played by domestic forces in the region. Its contributors know well the domestic scene that is driving nuclear outcomes in each of the countries, and they make a persuasive case that these internal forces eclipse external geopolitical forces in shaping Asia’s nuclear future. This essential volume sheds new light on the Asian nuclear landscape. (Bruce Blair, Princeton University)

This must-read book assembles a veritable who’s who of nuclear experts on Asia. The volume skillfully opens the black box of domestic politics across Asian nations with nuclear energy and nuclear weapons programs, tracking the balance of Nationalists, Realists, and Globalists in each and analyzing how domestic political configurations affect the nuclear policies of these Asian nations—states that comprise the most dynamic terrain in the global nuclear landscape. Each chapter should be read by anyone who cares not only about the respective state’s nuclear policies, but how it is in fact domestic politics driving them, a factor whose emphasis in these countries is long overdue. (Vipin Narang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Warning against relying on state-centric assumptions that seem more a matter of faith than empirical evidence, the volume finds that elusive ‘geopolitical’ factors are not decisive. Domestic politics mediate their actual impact. A welcome corrective for improving our understanding of nuclear futures. (Etel Solingen, University of California Irvine)

Book Chapters:

Chapter 1: Introduction: Uncovering Nuclear Thinking in Asia, by Deepa M. Ollapally
Chapter 2: China: Evolving Attitudes on Nuclear Affairs, by Hui Zhang
Chapter 3: India: The Nuclear Debate of a Rising Power, by Deepa M. Ollapally and Rajesh Rajagopalan
Chapter 4: Japan: Tremors in the Nuclear Consensus after Fukushima , by Mike Mochizuki
Chapter 5: South Korea: Intense Debates and Global Nuclear Ambitions, by Scott Snyder
Chapter 6: Taiwan: Commitment to a Nuclear-Free Future, by Robert Sutter and Yuan-Ming Alvin Yao
Chapter 7: Vietnam: Nuclear Ambitions and Domestic Dynamics, by Linda J. Yarr and Nguyê~n Thi. Thanh Thu’ y
Chapter 8: Southeast Asia: A Measured Nuclear Policy, by Catharin Dalpino and Timothy Westmyer
Chapter 9: Pakistan: The Nuclear Consensus, by Christopher Clary
Chapter 10: Conclusion: Policy Implications of Changing Domestic Debates, by Mike Mochizuki