Posts Tagged 'Nuclear Debates in Asia'

Policy Alert: Key Rising Powers Warily Take Note of the Trump-Xi Summit

xresizer.php,qsrc=,,_public,_uploads,_gallery,_20170408,_Trump_20170408_600_855.jpg,aw=630.pagespeed.ic.SbPh7SMVjWPresident Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Ji Xinping met for the first time amidst an air of expectancy and great uncertainty last week. The US attack on a Syrian airbase as the two leaders were sitting down to dinner on April 6 however, overshadowed this summit with the world’s attention re-directed to American policy in Syria. How did key rising powers anticipate and react to the summit amidst the US attack on Syria? Find out here.

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Policy Alert: Rising Powers React to President-Elect Donald J. Trump

trump-winDonald J. Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. After the polls closed and the votes were counted in a nail biter of an election on November 8, the Trump campaign won enough electoral college votes to defeat Hillary Clinton and retake the White House. Along with a GOP majority in the Senate and the House, President-Elect Trump and Republicans will have free rein over the instruments of American government. As demonstrated by previous Policy Alerts on the nominating conventions and the debates, rising powers have been closely watching the U.S. presidential election to understand how the next administration might change U.S. foreign policy and the global economy. In this Policy Alert, we explore the reactions from China, Russia, India, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea to the surprise conclusion of the 2016 race for the White House.


Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed congratulations to President-elect Trump and his desire to work closely together to “manage differences in a constructive way, in the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect, cooperation and win-win.”

Several commentators in China worried Trump’s presidency might have a negative effect on U.S.-China relations and could complicate Beijing’s economic and foreign policy ambitions.

  • China Daily saw Trump’s victory as the “logical outcome of the prevailing anti-establishment feelings” in a deeply divided U.S. society. China will have to adapt to “Trump at the helm” and see if his threats to slap a 45 percent tariff on Chinese exports to the United States and withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change were just campaign rhetoric or a promise.
  • Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University, foresaw Beijing being more assertive in its dealings with Washington with Trump’s China policy having “negative effects on Sino-U.S. economic cooperation.”
  • Lin Hongyu, scholar at Huaqiao University, credited Trump’s win with the campaign riding a current of anti-globalization to the degree that the election result did “not come as a surprise at all” to those not blinded by the media and elites.
  • Shen Dingli, professor of international relations at Fudan University, predicted if Trump “indeed removes the troops from Japan, the Japanese may develop their own nuclear weapons.” He worried “South Korea may also go nuclear if Trump cancels the missile deployment and leaves the country alone facing the North’s threats. How is that good for China?

Others were less worried about Trump’s victory either because China can adapt or that Trump will be constrained at home.

  • Mei Xinyu, research fellow with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, thought Trump’s victory would “create a chance to end the ‘self-damaging competition’” between China and the United States.
  • On whether Trump would continue Obama’s “Pivot to Asia,” China Daily predicted that while the next administration will not “roll back the U.S. presence in the region,” it matters “a huge difference how the Trump-led” White House “goes about it.”
  • Global Times guaranteed China was “strong enough to cope” with President Trump, who is “not as bold enough to really change” the United States.
  • Jin Canrong of Remin University considered it “unlikely” Trump will be able to fulfill his foreign policy promises as he is restrained by other conservatives and a pluralistic democracy. Lin Hongyu voiced a similar viewpoint.
  • “Democracy is the loser in U.S. Vote,” declared China Daily while criticizing the level of personal attacks and “nasty aspects” of American style democracy. The People’s Daily made a similar claim.


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ASIA REPORT: Uncovering Nuclear Thinking in Asia

nuclear-logoThe rise in global demand for nuclear energy is heavily concentrated in emerging and aspiring Asian powers. While nuclear power may alleviate energy shortages and climate change concerns, the promotion of nuclear energy compounds Asia’s nuclear weapon proliferation problems alongside nuclear power safety risks. All this is exacerbated by rising geopolitical tensions in Asia with more assertive policies – especially from China – in the region testing regional stability.

Against this perilous setting, Nuclear Debates in Asia: The Role of Geopolitics and Domestic Processes – a new book by the Rising Powers Initiative (RPI) at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies – questions the extent to which we can infer nuclear thinking simply from external conditions and instead considers policy thinking on nuclear power and proliferation in Asia to be more complex and variegated than often posited. In this Asia Report, we present analysis offered at a recent RPI book launch event at the Elliott School for International Studies at George Washington University (GWU) with commentary by several of the authors on South Korea, Japan, China, and Taiwan. You can also listen to the event’s audio on the Sigur Center’s website.

Five Important Findings in the Book

The Nuclear Debates in Asia book found several illuminating common features across Asia:

  • First, decision making on nuclear issues is still largely centrally controlled in a process dominated by elites in both democratic and authoritarian states.
  • Second, this stranglehold on nuclear decision making has at times been confronted by grassroots level movements often focused on a specific nuclear question (e.g. protests against nuclear power plants or reprocessing facilities, anti-nuclear weapon groups) especially as pluralism is on the rise in parts of Southeast Asia, Japan, India, and even China.
  • Third, nuclear weapons policy has been remarkably consistent despite tremendous external security challenges (particularly China’s ascendancy) and the rise of so-called “resource nationalism” alongside growing energy demands. Instead, nuclear policy appears to be relatively insulated from the whims of populist Nationalism.
  • Fourth, the overall center of gravity in most of the countries studied shows the dominance of a Realist-Globalist coalition.
  • Finally, Pakistan remains the outlier in this trend with nuclear debates essentially dominated by elites with Nationalist


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RPI Research Database: A Valuable Tool for Scholars and Policymakers


The Rising Powers Initiative (RPI) at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies is pleased to offer the RPI Research Database.

RPI is a multi-year, cross-national research effort that examines the role of domestic identities and foreign policy debates of aspiring powers in Asia and Eurasia. As part of our efforts to analyze and compare the foreign policy thinking in today’s rising powers, the Research Database is an edited bibliography of books and articles on targeted subjects that reflect our ongoing research.

Each entry contains an abstract or summary along with further information on how to access the resource. The database is compiled by our research staff and is frequently updated with articles and books from 1990 onwards with emphasis on the latest academic and policy publications.

Countries and regions included in the database:
  • China
  • India
  • Japan
  • Russia
  • South Korea
  • Southeast Asia and ASEAN
  • Taiwan
Topics and subjects included in the database:
  • Identity and foreign policy
  • Energy security, Asian security, and maritime security
  • Nuclear energy and nuclear proliferation
  • International political economy
  • U.S. foreign policy in Asia

The Research Database can be accessed here.

We hope that the Database is a useful tool for conducting research on rising powers in Asia and for keeping up to date on the latest relevant academic and policy publications.

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NSG Rejection Derails India’s Potential Commitment to Paris Agreement

Smog in New Delhi, India (Source: Mark Danielson, Flickr)

Smog in New Delhi, India (Source: Mark Danielson, Flickr)

What does the trade of nuclear materials have to do with reducing greenhouse gas emissions? The connection between the two may be more complex than you might think. India’s recent failed candidacy to earn membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has discouraged New Delhi’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement was drawn up at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change last year and sought, among other things, to reduce global greenhouse emissions around the world in an effort to protect the environment and stop global warming. On April 22, 2016, India and 177 other countries signed the treaty with an understanding that the accord would take effect once 55 countries that account for 55 percent of the world’s emissions ratified it. Prior to India’s rejection from the NSG, 18 countries had already ratified it and a ratification by India would have meant that countries accounting for 55.49 percent of the emissions would have been committed to the agreement. This would have meant that only the remaining countries accounting for a meager .51 percent would have needed to ratify the agreement to finally make it binding on all signatories. (more…)

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RPI Scholar Rajesh Rajagopalan: U.S.-India Ties In Need of Serious Help

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets President Barack Obama at White House. (Source: Press Information Bureau)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets President Barack Obama at White House. (Source: Press Information Bureau)

Rajesh Rajagopalan, a participant in RPI’s Nuclear Debates in Asia and Worldviews of Aspiring Powers projects and professor in International Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, delved into the state of U.S.-Indian relations after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the United States. In his article for the East-West Center’s Asia Pacific Bulletin, Rajagopalan lamented what he saw as strained ties after years of both sides “busily dug their relationship into a hole.” Despite the U.S.-India nuclear energy cooperation agreement signed almost a decade ago, Rajagopalan felt India’s “foolish” nuclear liability law “negated the key benefits” of the deal and will unlikely be resolved anytime soon. Furthermore, the scholar sensed that India and U.S. allies in Asia were increasingly doubting “Washington’s dependability” as the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia strategy falls short of its intended goals.

Rajagopalan offers some guarded optimism for the future after Modi’s visit: strong personal rapport between Modi and Obama as well as several high-level diplomatic efforts to jumpstart the relationship. He concluded “what all this suggests is a decidedly mixed picture, with some scope for optimism but also a healthy respect for the still unchanged rhythm of the U.S.‐India relationship.”

To read the full article, click here.

The Rising Power Initiative’s Nuclear Debates in Asia project will continue to explore the role of nuclear issues in the U.S.-India relationship. Follow the project on Twitter at@Westmyer or visit the project website at

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Policy Brief: Can ASEAN Sell Its Nuclear Free Zone to the Nuclear Club?

nukefreezoneOn November 13-14, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein will host the East Asia Summit, the apex of his country’s debut as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Myanmar has inherited a daunting agenda, notably the need to move ASEAN toward completion of an economic community and to maintain dialogue with China on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, however slowly. At the beginning of the year, Myanmar had set as one goal for its chairmanship persuading the five permanent members (P-5) of the U.N. Security Council to sign the protocol to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty, in which they would promise to uphold the treaty’s principles. This has been a continuing but elusive goal for ASEAN since SEANWFZ went into force in 1997.

In this Policy Brief, Catharin Dalpino, Contract Course Chair in Southeast Asian Studies at the Foreign Service Institute and Adjunct Professor at Seton Hall University’s Washington program, discusses whether the ASEAN countries will be able to sell the SEANWFZ to the P-5 nations. She argues that “there is scant evidence that Myanmar will be able to meet its self-imposed goal this year – none of the P-5 has signed the protocol – but the prospects in the future are by no means dim.”

Read the full Policy Brief here

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RPI Scholar Scott Snyder: How to End the U.S.-South Korea Nuclear Energy Impasse in 3 Steps

us-rokWith the United States and South Korea at a loss how to end talks on their future nuclear energy ties, Nuclear Debates in Asia project scholar Scott Snyder offers a way forward. In a Policy Innovation Memorandum for the Council at Foreign Relations, where he is a senior fellow for Korea studies, Snyder outlined three steps that may allow the United States and South Korea to continue their collaboration on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy despite an on-going dispute over how South Korea handles U.S.-origin nuclear material.

To accomplish this diplomatic breakthrough, Snyder suggested to:

      • Make the results of the U.S.-ROK joint study on spent fuel methods, including the viability of pyroprocessing, the basis for determining whether or not the United States will provide advanced consent to alter U.S.-origin nuclear fuel in a new agreement.
      • Make negotiations on the renewal of the U.S.-Japan nuclear cooperation agreement in 2018 the benchmark for cooperation between the United States and countries with advanced nuclear power industries. 
      • Encourage South Korea to purchase an investment stake in a fuel-enrichment service provider, such as the new Urenco enrichment plant currently being built in the United States.

This innovative strategy, Snyder argued, would allow South Korea to reap the energy security and economic benefits of its robust domestic nuclear industry, for the two allies to expand their nuclear trade, and for the United States to develop “a consistent standard for cooperation with advances nuclear countries.”

Please click here to read the full Policy Innovation Memorandum.

Be sure to follow the Rising Power Initiative’s Nuclear Debates in Asia project on Twitter @westmyer and this blog as events develop for more news and analysis.

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Former RPI Scholar Jogesh Joshi on Limits to India-Japan Nuclear Ties

india-japanOn the heels of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Japan, Yogesh Joshi, former visiting scholar at the Sigur Center and Ph.D. candidate at Jawaharlal Nehru University, wrote an op-ed for World Politics Review where he argued that despite the mutual interests of India and Japan to respond to “China’s steady rise and growing assertiveness,” there are still a number of obstacles limiting further cooperation on civilian nuclear energy and security cooperation due to India’s status outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Joshi suggested India become “more sensitive to Japan’s nonproliferation concerns,” by joining the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and upholding its new obligations under the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Model Additional Protocol.

You can read the full article by clicking here (subscription required). (more…)

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Nuclear Issues Center of Debate at Event on Korean Peninsula

A North Korean nuclear missile test in 2009. Source: KCNA/AFP/Getty)

A North Korean nuclear missile test in 2009. Source: KCNA/AFP/Getty)

A torrent of security, diplomatic, and economic challenges intersect on the Korea Peninsula to complicate debates on nuclear issues. While the threat posed by the North Korean nuclear arsenal looms over the region, experts at a recent conference co-hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Korea Economic Institute in Washington, D.C. suggested that an evolving security environment could open up new possibilities to alter the nuclear landscape.

The United States and South Korea are currently engaged in talks on the future of nuclear energy cooperation between the two allies. Park Jin, former Chairman of the Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Unification Committee in the South Korean National Assembly, urged Washington to allow Seoul to expand its civilian nuclear program despite concerns about how those activities may impact proliferation risks. According to Jin, decision-makers focus too often on North Korea and not on the needs of South Korea’s civilian nuclear program when discussing nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula. “Under these circumstances,” Jin said “the South Korean government’s desire to revise the nuclear cooperation agreement to allow civilian recycling of the spent nuclear fuel and to move toward uranium enrichment for civilian purposes in a very transparent manner is certainly a challenge.” Nevertheless, South Korea and the United States signed the last so-called “123 nuclear cooperation agreement” over four decades ago when South Korea was still an under-developed economy. Jin insisted today South Korea has become the fifth largest nuclear energy power in the world, and it is crucial that his country supplies nuclear fuel to its domestic reactors in a more stable manner. (more…)

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