March 2001 – India and Pakistan stand at a nuclear crossroads, poised between demonstrated nuclear weapons status and the deployment of deliverable nuclear arsenals. The presence of nuclear weapons in the volatile and strategically located region of South Asia poses a serious threat to vital U.S. regional and global interests. The Bush administration can prevent India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear competition from assuming the shape of an all-out nuclear arms race through a coherent and consistent nonproliferation policy and suitable influence strategies.
The report recommends that an interim goal for the Bush administration should be to cap India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programs below the deployment threshold. However, the U.S. should also seek to persuade and pressure India and Pakistan to roll back and eventually eliminate their nuclear weapons programs. Diplomatic engagement and other incentives can play a major role in convincing India and Pakistan to curb their nuclear weapons programs. However, inducements on their own will fail to influence South Asian nuclear decision makers unless they are accompanied by sanctions which constrict the flow of critical materials to South Asia.
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