Implications of Indian and/or Japanese Nuclear Proliferation for US Defense Policy Planning

In 1969, the United States announced to the world that Washington expected its allies, especially in the Asia-Pacific area, to assume a larger share of the burden for its own individual and regional security in what is known as the Nixon Doctrine. Despite U.S. re-assurance towards its military commitments to allies in the region, within this context, American military presence and policy alone did not suffice to assuage the confidence and security concerns of regional leaders. In May 1974, India tested its first nuclear explosion. With an increasingly assertive China’s flexing of its military muscles in various territorial disputes, and the increased proliferation of nuclear arms and technology to states such as North Korea and Pakistan, nations such as Japan may seek to enhance its own security by developing nuclear weapons, and profoundly altering the region’s already delicate security and political balance.

This 1974 report by Stanford Research Institute’s Strategic Studies Center lists and analyzes the possible motivations for the acquisition of nuclear weapons by India and Japan, as well as the possible regional and worldwide consequences that may arise should one or both states undergo nuclearization of its armed forces. The authors also evaluate various options for a U.S. response both prior to and after the commitment  towards nuclear arms development.

The report states:

“In the past, whenever a new nation has acquired nuclear weapons, certain politically and strategically important changes have occurred in international relations. Each new emergence of a nuclear weapons state has altered relationships in the international community, imposed new conditions, exposed different problems in respect to alliances, concepts of national interest, and strategy, and forces a reassessment of relative power among the nuclear weapons states.” [page 1]

This report was released to the Nautilus Institute under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

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