Three nuclear-armed neighbors — China, India and Pakistan — are increasingly locked in tense relations across contested land borders. Southern Asia has a history of major wars and nuclear crises, yet there are fewer safeguards in place to prevent nuclear war than in many of the world’s other potential flash points.

Although U.S. diplomats have helped to avert nuclear escalation in prior crises, changing strategic alignments, fresh cross-border disputes, and the development of new capabilities, doctrines, and threat perceptions all raise concerns over the risk of future escalation — as well as the United States’ ability to avert it. 

Motivated by these concerns, last June USIP convened a bipartisan Senior Study Group on Strategic Stability in Southern Asia. Comprised of experts, former policymakers and retired diplomats, the study group was tasked with assessing the risk of nuclear escalation in Southern Asia and formulating new approaches for U.S. policy. 

On May 17, study group members discussed their findings and offered priority recommendations for U.S. policymakers working to de-escalate tensions in Southern Asia and establish safeguards against future conflicts. Take part in the discussion on Twitter with #SAsiaStrategicStability.

Speakers

Ambassador George Moose, introduction and moderator
Chair, Board of Directors, U.S. Institute of Peace

Daniel Markey 
Senior Advisor, South Asia, U.S. Institute of Peace; Co-Chair, Senior Study Group on Strategic Stability in Southern Asia 

Lynn Rusten
Vice President, Global Nuclear Policy Program, Nuclear Threat Initiative; Member, Senior Study Group on Strategic Stability in Southern Asia 

Andrew Scobell 
Distinguished Fellow, China, U.S. Institute of Peace; Co-Chair, Senior Study Group on Strategic Stability in Southern Asia 

Vikram Singh
Senior Advisor, Asia Program, U.S. Institute of Peace; Co-Chair, Senior Study Group on Strategic Stability in Southern Asia 

Yun Sun
Senior Fellow and Co-Director, East Asia Program, Stimson Center; Member, Senior Study Group on Strategic Stability in Southern Asia 

 

Related Publications

Our Next ‘Unthinkable’ Crisis: Nuclear War in Asia?

Our Next ‘Unthinkable’ Crisis: Nuclear War in Asia?

Thursday, May 19, 2022

By: James Rupert

Our world’s spate of disasters so recently unimaginable — European cities pulverized by war, Earth’s decaying climate or 6 million dead from pandemic disease — evokes a national security question: What other “unthinkable” crises must American citizens and policymakers anticipate? A singular threat is warfare around our planet’s one spot where three nuclear-armed states stubbornly contest long-unresolved border conflicts. Largely unnoted in national security news coverage, the conflicts embroiling China, India and Pakistan are growing more complex and dangerous. A USIP study shows the urgency for U.S. policymakers of working to reduce the risks.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyConflict Analysis & Prevention

China, India and Pakistan: Tenuous Stability Risks Nuclear War

China, India and Pakistan: Tenuous Stability Risks Nuclear War

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

By: Daniel Markey, Ph.D.;  Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.;  Vikram J. Singh

Over the past decade, long-standing disputes between the nuclear-armed states of Southern Asia have repeatedly veered into deeper hostility and violence. These regional developments reflect and reinforce new and significant geopolitical shifts, starting with the global strategic competition between China and the United States. In Southern Asia, relations between the United States and Pakistan have frayed even as U.S.-India and China-Pakistan ties have strengthened. The region now faces deepening and more multifaceted polarization. Global competition adds fuel to regional conflict and reduces options for crisis mediation.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionGlobal Policy

View All Publications