Michael KreponNuclear South Asia

Quotes of the week:
“Learning is ever in the freshness of its youth, even for the old.”

“Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned.”
–Mark Twain

When you find yourself in a hole, recovery is a multi-step process. The first step is to stop digging. The second step is to figure out how you got in so deep. The third step is to figure out how to get out. And the fourth step is to head for daylight.

India, Pakistan and China are at a significant juncture in their interactive nuclear competition. In a down-scaled way, they are where the Soviet Union and the United States were in the late 1960s. The lure and pitfalls of MIRVs and ballistic missile defenses beckon. Counterforce capabilities will then entice, along with attendant concerns of preemption. All of this – plus cruise missiles and the revolution in conventional counterforce capabilities – is playing out in a far more compressed timeline in South Asia than was the case for the superpower competition.

The Stimson Center is offering a free online course to help assess this state of play, what choices lay ahead, and how to avoid the mistakes that Washington and Moscow have made. Our course is Nuclear South Asia: A Guide to India, Pakistan, and the Bomb. Sameer Lalwani and I are the co-instructors. Travis Wheeler, Gillian Gayner, and Shane Mason spent many long hours pulling this course together – seven course sections, eight and one-half hours of tape, resource pages, graphics, charts, time lines, quizzes, and links to more information. Students who pass the final exam will gain accreditation.

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This course is made possible by the generous grant support of the MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Stanton Foundation. It’s also made possible by the generous gift of time by the following scholars, practitioners, analysts, and researchers who have lent their expertise to help those who want to learn more about the nuclear competition in South Asia. Sameer and I are grateful to each and every one of them, who believe in learning and in classrooms without borders:

  • Rizwana Abbasi, Assistant Professor, Department of Strategic and Nuclear Studies, National Defence University
  • James Acton, Co-Director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Mansoor Ahmed, Stanton Nuclear Security Junior Faculty Fellow, Belfer Center, Harvard University
  • Rabia Akhtar, Director, Centre for Security, Strategy, and Policy Research, University of Lahore
  • Zamir Akram, Former Pakistani Ambassador
  • Linton Brooks, Chief U.S. Negotiator, Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
  • Ahsan Butt, Assistant Professor of Government and Politics, Department of Public and International Affairs, George Mason University
  • Stephen Cohen, Senior Fellow, The India Project, Foreign Policy Program, Brookings Institution
  • Raj Chengappa, Group Editorial Director (Publishing), India Today Group
  • Christopher Clary, Assistant Professor, University at Albany
  • Lisa Curtis, Former Senior Adviser to the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs
  • Toby Dalton, Co-Director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Robert Einhorn, Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation
  • Thomas Fingar, Former Chairman, U.S. Intelligence Council
  • Mark Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, IISS-Americas
  • Francis Gavin, Frank Stanton Chair in Nuclear Security Policy Studies and Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Jack Gill, Former South Asia Foreign Area Officer, U.S. Army
  • Charles Glaser, Director, Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, George Washington University
  • Anish Goel, Senior Fellow, International Security Program, New America
  • Devin Hagerty, Professor of Political Science, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Syed Azmat Hassan, Former Pakistani Ambassador
  • Siegfried Hecker, Former Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Pervez Hoodbhoy, Distinguished Professor of Physics and Mathematics, Forman Christian College
  • Touqir Hussain, Former Pakistani Ambassador
  • Zahid Imroz, Former Visiting Research Fellow, George Washington University
  • Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, Visiting Fellow, Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Neil Joeck, Research Scholar, Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley
  • Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation
  • Sharad Joshi, Assistant Professor of Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies, Middle Institute of International Studies at Monterey
  • S. Paul Kapur, Professor, Department of National Security Affairs, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School
  • Reshmi Kazi, Associate Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
  • Feroz Khan, Former Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs, Strategic Plans Division, Pakistan Army
  • Riaz Khan, Former Pakistani Foreign Secretary
  • Michael Krepon, Co-founder, Stimson Center
  • Walter Ladwig, Assistant Professor, International Relations, King’s College London
  • Sameer Lalwani, Deputy Director, South Asia Program, Stimson Center
  • Jeffrey Lewis, Adjunct Professor and Director of East Asia Nonproliferation Program, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
  • Thomas Lynch, Distinguished Research Fellow for South Asia and the Near East, Center for Strategic Research, Institute of National Strategic Studies, National Defense University
  • Julia Macdonald, Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania, Perry World House
  • Salma Malik, Professor, Quaid-i-Azam University
  • Daniel Markey, Former Member, U.S. Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff
  • Nicholas Miller, Dean’s Assistant Professor of Nuclear Security and Policy, Watson Institute, Brown University
  • Sitakanta Mishra, Assistant Professor, School of Liberal Studies, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University
  • C. Raja Mohan, Director, Carnegie India
  • Vipin Narang, Mitsui Career Development Associate Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Ruhee Neog, Assistant Director, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies
  • George Perkovich, Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Steven Pifer, Director, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative, Brookings Institution
  • Barry Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Shaukat Qadir, Pakistani Army (ret.)
  • Rajesh Rajagopalan, Professor in International Politics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Rajeswari Rajagopalan, Senior Fellow and Head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative, Observer Research Foundation
  • Robin Raphel, Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs
  • Hasan Askari Rizvi, Professor Emeritus, Punjab University
  • Scott Sagan, The Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science, Stanford University
  • Naeem Salik, Senior Fellow, Centre for International Strategic Studies
  • Nilanthi Samaranayake, Strategic Studies Analyst, Center for Naval Analyses
  • Amy Sands, Executive Director, Research Centers and Initiatives, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
  • Jaganath Sankaran, Research Scholar, Center for International Security Studies at ththe University of Maryland
  • Shyam Saran, Former Foreign Secretary of India
  • Jayita Sarkar, Associate, Belfer Center, Harvard University
  • Teresita Schaffer, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia, U.S. Department of State
  • Deborah Schneider, Staff Director, Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, U.S. Department of State
  • Manpreet Sethi, Senior Fellow, Centre for Air Power Studies
  • Sheel Kant Sharma, Former Indian Ambassador
  • Swaran Singh, Professor of Diplomacy and Disarmament, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Andrew Small, Senior Transatlantic Fellow, Asia Program, German Marshall Fund
  • David Smith, Former U.S. Army Attaché to Pakistan
  • Rakesh Sood, Former Indian Ambassador
  • Leonard Spector, Executive Director, Washington Office, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
  • Yun Sun, Senior Associate, East Asia Program, Stimson Center
  • Mushahid Hussain Syed, Chairman, Committee on Defence, Pakistani Senate
  • Nina Tannenwald, Director, International Relations Program, Watson Institute, Brown University
  • Sadia Tasleem, Lecturer, Quaid-i-Azam University
  • Ashley Tellis, Former Senior Adviser to the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
  • Cindy Vestergaard, Senior Associate, Nuclear Safeguards Program, Stimson Center
  • Marvin Weinbaum, Former Analyst for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, U.S. Department of State
  • Amy Woolf, Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy, Foreign Afairs, Defense, and Trade Division, Congressional Research Service
  • Diana Wueger, Faculty Associate for Research, Center on Contemporary Conflict, Naval Postgraduate School
  • Moeed Yusuf, Associate Vice President, Asia Center, U.S. Institute of Peace

With guest lecturers like these, Nuclear South Asia: A Guide to India, Pakistan, and the Bomb provides a unique learning experience for those of all ages and of all nationalities with access to a computer or cell phone. Our course offers diverse viewpoints and doesn’t reach conclusions. It will take enrollees beyond talking points and national nuclear narratives. We constructed this course for all those who cannot find a course on nuclear South Asia in their classrooms, who do not believe that rote memorization constitutes learning, and who wish to think for themselves. Enroll in Nuclear South Asia by navigating to www.nuclearlearning.org and clicking the “Enroll for free” button.

We previewed the course by offering the first three sections in July 2016. So, far, we have attracted more than 1,200 enrollees from 81 countries. Now that the full course is available, along with accreditation, we expect many more enrollees. We hope that professors will utilize sections of this course in their syllabi, and that students that do not have a course like this in their curriculum can sign in to Stimson’s first open, on line course – or SOOC, for short. All are welcome to our marketplace of ideas.


  1. Shaheen (History)

    Great initiative.

    • Michael Krepon (History)

      Much appreciated. There are so few courses available. We will follow up by reaching out to professors that might be able to make use of our content.

  2. Mike Izbicki (History)

    Creating an account on nuclearlearning.org requires submitting a password. This password gets transmitted unencrypted to the server (because the webpage uses the http instead of https protocol). It would be nice if the passwords were sent over an encrypted connection. I’d guess that should be an easy thing to configure with whatever software you’re using to host the site.

    • Travis Wheeler (History)

      Mike: Thanks so much for bringing this issue to our attention. Michael asked me to get back to you. Thinkific, which hosts our course, is in the process of moving to encrypted log-in pages across their platform. We expect the issue to be resolved within the next few weeks.

    • Travis Wheeler (History)

      Mike: We’ve resolved this issue with Thinkific. You can now enter your log-in credentials via a secure https protocol. Here’s the link: https://www.nuclearlearning.org/courses/nuclear-south-asia. Thanks again for bringing this to our attention.

    • Mike Izbicki (History)

      Travis: Thanks for the super fast response! I’m very impressed 🙂

  3. Leandro (History)

    Outstanding effort, signed up as soon as I could and, betraying my own rules I “had” to took all the quizes in advance to see where I was standing.

    Found too many pre-existing misconceptions on my own “knowledge”.

    Now onto the ten + hours of videos to try and improve and broaden my viewpoints.

    Thanks through you to everyone involved in this, Michael. It’s really a great initiative.

    Hope I’ll pass the final test… After all there are some great teachers out there!

    • Michael Krepon (History)

      Music to my ears.
      Plz let us know how we can improve the course.
      Best wishes,

  4. Bradley Laing (History)

    May 12 (UPI) — In its ongoing bid to remove a U.S.-deployed THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, China has deployed an unusual tactical strike force: nationalist rappers.

    The Sichuan-based hip-hop group CD Rev released a song about the international conflict, warning South Koreans about the perils of defying China, particularly over THAAD.


  5. A.S. (History)

    So can you re-take the exam, or is it one shot only?

    • Michael Krepon (History)

      Yes, you can retake the exam.
      You will need a score of 80% to receive accreditation.