Thursday, June 9, 2011

Move away from seeking technological solutions to geopolitical issues

Here's the link to the ORF report on the recent Nuclear Dialogue in Beijing, where I had a paper on Missile Defence & Strategic Stability.

Noting that one of the emerging issues in Asian security is missile defence and its impact on nuclear deterrence and strategic stability, Dr. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan has suggested that States should move away from the trend of seeking technological solutions to geopolitical issues in order to strengthen regional stability.

Anyone interested in the full paper, I will be happy to mail you separately. For the full report, click here.

"Technologies and weapon systems can inadvertently contribute to accidents and misperceptions and thereby lead to unintended crises," Dr. Rajagopalan said in a paper
titled "Missile Defence and Strategic Stability" presented at an international conference on ’China and India Nuclear Doctrine and Dynamics’, organised by the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing on June 2 & 3.

Dr. Rajagopalan, a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, also suggested establishing certain ground rules in the area of missile defence that will help in reining the regional BMD programmes.

Dr. Rajagopalan said missile defence systems are not very effective. "There are serious limitations to how effectively BMD can protect its cities. For instance, in the case of India, BMD provide limited protection - to a few target locations. Protection against multiple missile attacks is something that India is still grappling with."

She said while "India’s BMD programme has been by and large an indigenous effort, there has been some foreign collaboration. More importantly, a potential collaboration between India and the US /Israel can fuel suspicion in the region contributing to the insecurity and instability dynamics in the region. China and Pakistan may not take kindly to such developments.

"China could potentially strengthen their nuclear, ICBM programmes, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, adding to the security-insecurity dilemma in the region. A strengthened China-Pakistan strengthened partnership could be a direct fall-out of this," Dr. Rajagopalan said in the paper, noting that analysts have cautioned that an Indian missile defence system would lead to China and Pakistan augmenting "their missile strike capabilities to maintain the strategic deterrence."

She said that in fact, an ineffective system or a system that is not fully developed will worsen and increases India’s vulnerabilities than strengthen its security.

Dr. Rajagopalan cautioned that a potential arms race in Asia is well within the realm of possibilities. "An Indian reaction to the Chinese test will touch off a response in Pakistan and a potential collaboration between China and Pakistan on nuclear, missile, and space matters is something that is likely to intensify the regional competition significantly. One has to look into the history to understand the China-Pakistan nuclear and missile cooperation. Outer space is the new domain for cooperation. China has agreed to strengthen their work on Pakistan’s satellite, which is currently being built in China, to be launched into orbit on August 14, 2011."

This conference was the second meeting wherein the Chinese were engaged in a bilateral with India on the nuclear subject. The first dialogue was organised by S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, earlier this year.

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