Nuclear arms race in Asia: Players, stakes and predicates for stability

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North Korea’s unpredictable behavior with respect to its nuclear arsenal is only one element of a nuclear arms competition among powers in Asia. Nuclear Asia is a potential cockpit for an outbreak of accidental nuclear war or deliberate nuclear first use, as among regional rivals and adversaries. In addition, a limited nuclear war between regional enemies could ignite intervention by outside powers and intensify, in terms of its potential for horizontal or vertical escalation. Research does not support a definitive relationship between the numbers of nuclear weapons states acting in Asia or in the Pacific and the probability of war, including nuclear war. On the other hand, the availability of nuclear weapons may make more states risk acceptant instead of risk averse in regional conflicts, and overconfident with respect to their skills in managing escalation. That finding is important because states’ abilities to manage escalation may be more important than the sizes of their arsenals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-471
Number of pages12
JournalComparative Strategy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 20 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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