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date: 16 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Asia remains a region of vertical and potential horizontal nuclear proliferation, despite the limited progress in the early 1990s. Driven by a combination of threat perceptions, domestic factors, and lack of effective multilateral security institutions, the region continues to face significant proliferation challenges. China, India, and Pakistan are all engaged in nuclear modernization, while efforts to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program have to date not been successful. Pyongyang’s involvement in illicit nuclear transfers continues. Given the ongoing territorial disputes, historical animosity, and emerging competition between some of Asia’s rival powers, the region could risk further proliferation in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Robust US extended deterrence, renewed efforts to restore and strengthen international nonproliferation norms, and regional confidence-building measures, will be the key to managing nuclear politics and heading off a nuclear domino in Asia.

Keywords: nuclear proliferation, threat perception, nuclear modernization, norms, nuclear weapons free zone, Six-Party Talks, nuclear trafficking, extended deterrence

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