Posts Tagged 'India'

RPI Author Christopher Clary on Indian Nuclear Weapons Policy

indiaChristopher Clary, Rising Powers Initiative scholar and Stanton Nuclear Security Pre-doctoral Fellow at the RAND Corporation, recently wrote an article for the Center for the Advanced Study of India’s India in Transition on safety and security issues within India’s nuclear arsenal:

We are just weeks beyond the fifteenth anniversary of the 1998 nuclear tests, and less than a year from the fortieth anniversary of India’s 1974 “peaceful nuclear experiment.” India is justly proud of what its nuclear scientists have accomplished. In the face of an international regime to slow their progress, Indian scientists, engineers, and even bureaucrats and politicians collaborated to find a way to build an increasingly diverse nuclear energy infrastructure and the ability to produce nuclear weapons. To overcome these obstacles, India built a closed, close-knit nuclear enclave. Now that it has done so, will that establishment open up?

Fifteen years after Pokhran-II, it is possible the world knows less about India’s nuclear weapons program than any other nuclear state except North Korea. This is not proud company for the world’s largest democracy to share. The Indian public has settled mostly for quiescence about the program, punctuated by a handful of commentators eager to cheerlead the program’s accomplishments. This lack of inquiry could be unfortunate. Closed organizations develop pathologies that are often harmful to the broader public interest. They sometimes accept decrements in safety to achieve other organizational goals. Whether India’s nuclear stewards have avoided dangerous practices is unclear based on the scant public record. (more…)

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Asian Powers Comment on Turmoil in Egypt: 2011 Versus Now

morsiThe Egyptian military’s deposition of former President Mohamed Morsi has observers around the globe reflecting on how events have changed since the Arab Spring in 2011. This Post compares domestic viewpoints expressed then – from China, India, Russia, and Japan – to opinions in these countries now on the unfolding story in Egypt. 

Read our 2011 Policy Alert for additional comparative views. 


While China’s Foreign Ministry said it would ultimately respect the decision of the Egyptian people, media commentary echoed doubts expressed in 2011 that these kinds of “revolutions” could ever lead to democratic change in Egypt:


  • “Color revolutions will not bring about real democracy,” ran the headline of an editorial in theGlobal Times. “Whether the [democratic] system is applicable in other countries is in question, as more and more unsuccessful examples arise,” said the Communist Party-sponsored English daily.


  • The Global Times remained cynical about the “prospects of revolutions” bringing about real democracy, especially when it leads to the copying of “a Western-style democratic system.”The editorial predicted the Egyptian people will “soon get sick of the army” and how events play out will be a test of “whether a country can escape from post-revolution chaos.”

Additional sources shared these pessimistic concerns:

  • China Daily editorial felt the coup d’état “ignited deep worries that the most populous Arab country may plunge deeper into political crisis and social unrest.” The paper worried “divides and even hatred between different forces and factions will still exist after Morsi’s ousting” and will make reconciliation “difficult in the short term.”
  • The South China Morning Post wondered why the Egyptian public was so quick to praise the army for deposing Morsi after decrying the military as “thugs” when it aided the collapse of former President Mubarak’s regime. Unless “all sides keep their bargain and are tolerant and understanding,” the paper declared “Egypt’s future will be bleak.”


Editorials in leading newspapers did not express the same optimistic outlook they espoused after the end of Mubarak 30-year rule:


  • The Hindu said “the Egyptian state has lost all legitimacy” and that “we are almost certainly witnessing a transformative moment in the modern history of West Asia.”


  • The Hindu called the recent coup an “ominous development” after the Arab Spring seemed to “herald a genuinely democratic future for Egypt.” The editorial hoped that the military – despite its “long record of corruption and other abuses of power” – will “quit politics” or “else gains of the Tahrir Square revolution will be tragically lost.” This concern was shared in a Business Standardop-ed by Una Galani.


  • The Indian Express characterized the Egyptian uprising as “a re-emergence of the Arab tradition of liberalism.”


Other media sources were more optimistic that the military coup was just a bump along Egypt’s path toward democracy:


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RPI Author Rajesh Rajagopalan on India-US Strategic Priorities


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Indian External Affairs Minister Khurshid before the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi, India on June 24, 2013 (Source: State Department)

Rajesh Rajagopalan, a participant in the RPI’s Nuclear Debates in Asia and Worldviews of Aspiring Powers projects and professor in International Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, recently wrote an op-ed for The Economic Times. He argues that the United States and India must void “talking past each other” in their Strategic Dialogue and better understand what should be the centerpiece of their partnership:

Whatever adjectives are being used to describe the state of India-US ties – as Secretary of State John Kerry comes visiting – it is clear that the relationship is not where it should be or where it was expected to be. New Delhi has to share a significant part of the blame because in the years after the India-US nuclear deal, it has seemed much more uncertain about what it wants from the relationship and much more skeptical about its benefits.

These opinions are now being echoed in Washington. As the US withdraws from Afghanistan next year and the national election campaign kicks off in India, the prospects for any immediate improvement are dimming. It is time both sides returned to what is truly strategic in their relationship. (more…)

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POLICY ALERT- Disclosures on U.S. Surveillance Prompt Reactions from Asian Powers

snowdenEarlier this month, The Guardian UK reported on classified U.S. intelligence gathering operations that collected information on phone records and other internet user data around the globe. Edward Snowden, a former contractor working for CIA, revealed himself as the source of these reports, provoking a diverse set of reactions within the U.S. and international press. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, India, and Russia on these disclosures.


While China’s foreign ministry declined to comment directly on Snowden’s case due to diplomatic sensitivities, Chinese media outlets expressed a range of views on the story.

Some praised Snowden as a whistleblower exposing the ‘hypocrisy’ in U.S. criticism of China’s cyberspace activities:

  • Xinhua columnist Xu Peixi called PRISM – one of the NSA internet surveillance tools – thebleakest moment yet in the history of the Internet.” Xu added that Snowden “offers us a rare chance to reexamine the integrity of American politicians and the management of American-dominant Internet companies” such as Google, which provided the NSA with data on its users.
  • The Chinese military’s official newspaper, the People’s Liberation Army Daily, termed PRISM“frightening” since it refuses to accept the privacy of non-U.S. citizens. The editorial added that”U.S. intelligence agencies are habitual offenders with regards to network monitoring andespionage.” Global Times also pushed its leaders to “explicitly demand a reasonable explanation from the U.S. government” on its monitoring operations against China. The editorial declared that “China is a rising power, and it deserves corresponding respect from the U.S.”

Several stressed that these reports may hamper efforts to improve Sino-U.S. relations:

  • In Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, Wang Xiangwei wrote that a top foreign policy adviser to the Chinese leadership hinted “Beijing would handle the Snowden case discreetly and had no interest in turning the event into a political case.”
  • Global Times argued that “diplomatically, Snowden has cast a shadow over the new Sino-US relationship right after the Xi-Obama meeting. The sooner the incident is wrapped up, the better the ties between the two countries will be.”

Others defended the surveillance operations as appropriate intelligence gathering tools:

  • In a letter to the South China Morning Post, Oren Tatcher and Sheung Wan contended that PRISM is a “perfectly legitimate program of self-defense” and that critics “don’t seem to understand” the “nature of electronic intelligence gathering.”
  • China Daily opined that President Obama should work to “convince the American people as well as global Internet users that the spying is a must and helps in a direct way to safeguard public safety from clear and present dangers.”

Finally, several debated the appropriate course of action for dealing with Snowden:

  •  “The optimal solution” would be for China to “provide necessary assistance for Snowden to go to a third country,” wrote Wang Xiangwei.
  • Xu Peixi argued that “China, despite the fact that it does not have a good reputation as far as Internet governance is concerned, should move boldly and grant Snowden asylum.” Global Times conceded that “China’s growing power is attracting people to seek asylum in China. This is unavoidable and should be used to accumulate moral standing.” (more…)
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Nuclear Recount: New Report on Asia’s Nuclear Stockpiles

sipri-2013Several nuclear armed countries in Asia have expanded their arsenal over the past year according to a new report. China, India, and Pakistan added 10 to 20 nuclear weapons to their stockpiles and made qualitative improvements to their delivery systems. Last week, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) – an international security think tank based in Sweden – published their latest SIPRI Yearbook, a helpful and comprehensive reference guide on global armaments.

Data from SIPRI Yearbook, 2010-2013. Estimates from January of year listed.

Data from SIPRI Yearbook, 2010-2013. Estimates from January of year listed.


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Reader’s Choice: The RPI’s Top 5 Policy Alerts

The RPI recently published its 50th Policy Alert. We’re celebrating by bringing back the top 5 most widely read Policy Alerts. Thank you for your continued readership and support!

  1. Policy Alert #45: Asian Powers Comment on French Intervention in Mali (February 2013)
  2. Policy Alert #48: Lessons from Cyprus: Rising Powers Comment on the Bank Bailout and Financial Globalization (March 2013)
  3. Policy Alert #50: Boston Marathon Bombings Elicit Mixed Reactions from Asian Powers (May 2013)
  4. Policy Alert #33: Sentiments from Asia’s Rising Powers on Winning & losing at the Olympics (July 2012)
  5. Policy Alert #44: Heightened Tensions in the East China Sea: Reactions from China and Japan (January 2013)
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Worldviews of Aspiring Powers Review, Meredith Oyen

Reviewed by Meredith Oyen (University of Maryland Baltimore County)
Published on H-Diplo (April, 2013)
Commissioned by Seth Offenbach 

Cover_LargeThe impact of domestic politics on foreign policy is a subject of long-standing interest for both historians of American foreign relations and political scientists concerned with international relations. A new volume edited by Henry R. Nau and Deepa M. Ollapally, Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in China, India, Iran, Japan, and Russia, brings together prominent scholars from across the world to explore the domestic dimension of foreign policy in five important countries. The core argument of this book is that domestic debates powerfully affect foreign policy, sometimes exerting as much influence as external factors. The authors consider the implications of the contesting worldviews not only for each country’s foreign policy, but also for U.S. foreign policy responses. Worldviews of Aspiring Powers therefore offers both a model for future studies of domestic debates in other rising or aspiring powers as well as some thoughtful advice for policymakers.

In order to develop a common vocabulary for discussing and analyzing these debates across the countries under study, Nau’s introductory chapter discusses three aspects of foreign policy under debate everywhere: the scope, means, and goals of policy. By analyzing these three aspects across three broad categories of worldviews–national, regional, and global–he sets up a broad framework of twenty-seven possible worldviews, which the authors of the individual chapter then use as a guide to explore the unique variations of the country under their consideration. Nau makes clear from the outset that reality does not fit the generalized model perfectly, and each country under consideration possesses attributes that make it unique.  (more…)

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Visiting Scholar Yogesh Joshi: Navigating Pakistan’s Nuclear and Domestic Politics

pakistan-nwJogesh Joshi, visiting scholar at the Sigur Center and Ph.D. candidate at Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Frank O’Donnell recently co-wrote an article for the East-West Center:

Pakistan is on the verge of a historic moment. For the first time in its national existence, a civilian government completed a full term of office in March of this year. A caretaker government is now administering the country until new elections are held this May. Many argue that if all goes well, successful national elections and a smooth power transition would help ensure that democratization is progressing in a country which has hitherto been ruled mostly by its generals.

However, democracy or no democracy, one trend which continues to unnerve the international community is Pakistan’s nuclear program. The country reportedly has the world’s fifth largest nuclear arsenal and it is projected to expand beyond that of France in the next few years. But this vertical proliferation is not only quantitative in nature; it is also qualitative, insofar as Pakistan is slowly but steadily diversifying the fissile base of its nuclear arsenal from uranium to plutonium. Plutonium-based weapons, unlike uranium ones, are more suitable for miniaturization because they require less fissile material. It also allows for both better concealment and swifter movement of nuclear arsenals. (more…)

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Conference on “Russia as a Global Power: Contending Views from Russia”

Henry Nau (George Washington University) and Fyodor Lukyanov (Russia in Global Affairs) exchange views at the conference on "Russia as a Global Power" on March 18, 2013.

Henry Nau (George Washington University) and Fyodor Lukyanov (Russia in Global Affairs) exchange views at the conference on “Russia as a Global Power” on March 18, 2013.

The collapse of the Soviet Union generated a wide range of contending views in Russia on the nation’s place in the world and its relationship with the West. In more recent years, however, Russian foreign policy can be largely characterized as one shaped by a pragmatic approach to balance of power politics and economic development. This outlook and its policy manifestations, along with dissenting views, were the theme of a recent conference on “Russia as a Global Power,” organized by the Rising Powers Initiative at the Elliot School of International Affairs.

Russian worldviews since 1991 can be categorized into roughly three schools of thought, argue Andrew Kuchins and Igor Zevelev in Worldviews of Aspiring Powers. The “Pro-Western Liberals” stress a European identity and favor closer integration with Europe through collective security and economic liberalization, but they have fallen out of favor since their brief rise in the early 1990s. The “Nationalists” see Russia as a distinct civilization apart from the West, and advocate the use of military power to secure Russia as an independent center of power in Eurasia. In contrast to the regional perspective of the Nationalists, the “Great Power Balancers” believe that Russia should have global aspirations in a multipolar world where international status is attained through both economic and military strength.  The three Russian experts featured at the conference roughly reflected this spectrum of worldviews in their discussions on a wide range of topics including Syria’s ongoing conflict, the creation of a Eurasian Customs Union, and Russian relations with China and India. (more…)

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Nuclear Debates in Asia on Center Stage at Conference

2013 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference (Source: Carnegie/Kaveh Sardari)

On April 8-9, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosted its biennial Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington, DC. The gathering convened government officials, academics, think tank experts, and private citizens to engage in discussions on nuclear energy, nuclear weapon, and nonproliferation issues around the globe. The Rising Powers Initiative’s Nuclear Debates in Asia project was there to see many of the project’s countries and issues prominently discussed at the event, including nuclear debates in China, India, Japan, and South Korea.

In this blog post, we highlight the major exchanges related to the Nuclear Debates in Asia project:

  • China’s challenge to pursue ambitious nuclear energy goals alongside regulatory oversight
  • How China defends a limited role for nuclear weapons in its defense strategy
  • Indian perspectives on the nonproliferation regime and nuclear energy agendas of emerging powers
  • India’s expansive nuclear energy plans
  • Lessons learned for Japan and India after the accident at Fukushima nuclear plant
  • One viewpoint within South Korea on how to respond to its northern neighbor’s recent provocations
  • South Korea’s approach to balancing nonproliferation concerns with spent fuel challenges through reprocessing


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