Aaron SteinThe Rebalance and the Shangri La Brouhaha

Tension boiled over at the Shangri La Dialogue last week. Are the tensions a cause for concern in the arms control community? Is China ready for primetime? And how should the US react, should one its allies in the region decide to leave the NPT?

This week, Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the United States’ pivot to Asia and how the Shangri La brouhaha could impact arms control and nonproliferation.

Jeffrey and Aaron discussed a number of articles during the podcast:

David Santoro, “Will America’s Asian Allies Go Nuclear?,” The National Interest, January 30, 2014.

Elbridge Colby, “Choose Geopolitics Over Nonproliferation,”  The National Interest, February 18, 2014.

Podcast alert: James M. Acton, Michael D. Swaine, Phillip Saunders, Lora Saalman, Michael McDevitt, “China’s Hypersonic Weapons Development,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 8, 2014.

As always, you can subscribe to the (now better sounding) Arms Control Wonk Podcast on iTunes.


  1. George William Herbert (History)

    Some response to the “lots of little carve-outs and you end up with nothing”…

    I think there are people seeing that we’ve *had* lots of little carve-outs made, and that them being there was not effectively responded to by the international community. Israeli and South African nuclear weapons programs are the historic ones, but then Indias’, Pakistans’, Irans’, North Koreas’, and Syrias’ chemical weapons use.

    The only one that has been truly robustly responded to was the Iraqi program and in all honesty that was only due to post-Gulf War sanctions, not actions initiated by the weapons program itself.

    On every one of these except perhaps South Africa, power politics played somewhere between a significant and dominant role. The goals and rules of the global nonproliferation regime as it were has not been nearly as pure as seems to be suggested. Is Elbridge Colby’s paper really more predictive or advisory, or summing up a historical trend and existing reality?

  2. Jonah Speaks (History)

    Jeffrey’s estimate of one chance in a thousand for Japan to acquire nuclear weapons seems low compared to his 20% estimate for South Korea. Japan may have a nuclear “allergy” but it has more plutonium to work with.

    Rational acquisition of nuclear weapons requires a situation where nuclear war or nuclear coercion is deemed likely absent nuclear deterrence. Acquiring or maintaining nuclear weapons simply to deter conventional attack is unwise–a “cure” worse than the disease. Unfortunately, the siren song of nuclear first use to stave off conventional attack remains strong, even in the U.S. Disputes over uninhabited islands, even if militarily pursued, would not justify a nuclear use.

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