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21 Wortzel, ‘China’s Nuclear Forces: Operations, Training, Doctrine, Command, Control and Campaign Planning’, p. viii. 22 Many states may today assume that US nonnuclear military superiority will continue indefinitely, but it should be remembered that history records the sudden decline of a number of great powers. American national-security officials and analysts may therefore worry about the durability of American military primacy in a world without nuclear weapons, as might states that now rely on US security guarantees.

To the extent that the Pakistani Army and security services concentrate their activities on addressing these largely internal challenges and diminish the historic obsession with confronting India in Kashmir, Indo-Pakistani relations could be normalised, and a formal peace negotiated. Such an outcome is far from clear, but its prospect is better than it has been in decades. As and when the two South Asian powers formally stabilise their security relationship, the possibility of their negotiating nuclear-arms control and further confidence-building measures will become real.

Because China retains a nuclear arsenal much smaller than that of Russia or the US, it relies on secrecy regarding the size and disposition of this arsenal to help protect its survivability. China perceives that the US has not clearly accepted a relationship of mutual deterrence with it. That is to say, the US has not reassured China that it will not seek or use military capabilities to negate China’s capacity to retaliate with nuclear weapons against any US first strike. The US may know that China has a small arsenal, but if it does not know the exact number and location of weapons capable of threatening US targets, Washington cannot be sure that it could destroy them all in a first strike.

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Abolishing Nuclear weapons: a debate by George Perkovich and James M. Acton, editors


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