Strategic and Policy Implications for the Future



In the next 10–20 years, it would not be unrealistic or unreasonable for Australia to seriously reconsider the possibility of wielding its own nuclear deterrent. Australia has already entered a transformational security environment, and that is changing both the deterrence and assurance “requirements” that US security assurances were intended to address in Asia. US nuclear policy also seems to be changing—the centrality of nuclear deterrence to US grand strategy seems to be diminishing just as Asia embarks on a prolonged period of geopolitical transformation. There is increasing uncertainty over the dynamics of China as a rising military power. Japan, India, and China are rising at the same time. There are concerns over the proliferation in nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology, and there are new concerns about the prospect of major-power war in East Asia. Changes in Australia’s past geostrategic environment underpinning the strength of the NPT are undermining the nuclear order, and the idea of an indivisible nuclear alliance. There are uncertainties in Asia about whether extended nuclear deterrence’s (END) future (primarily Asian, multipolar, asymmetrical relations, more risk-tolerant actors) will be much like Europe’s past (primarily Atlantic, bipolar, symmetrical, risk-averse actors). These changes are undermining Washington’s ability to supply END to its allies in Asia. There was no joint military doctrine à la NATO in the Asia-Pacific, and US preferences were to limit its obligations (especially its nuclear obligations).


Nuclear Weapon Ballistic Missile Nuclear Deterrence Missile Defense Nuclear Weapon State 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 9.
    See, for example, remarks by Dr. Tim Huxley, Naval Enhancement: How to Build Regional Confidence (Council for Security Cooperation General Conference, Hanoi, November 2011);Google Scholar
  2. Richard A. Bitzinger, “East Asian Arms Acquisitions Activities, 2011–2012,” in CSCAP Regional Security Outlook 2012 (Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, 2012). Available at: 10.Google Scholar
  3. See, for example, Department of Defense, Australia’s National Security: A Defense Update 2007 (Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 2007);Google Scholar
  4. Hugh White, “Australian Defense Policy and the Possibility of War,” Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 56, No. 2 (2002), pp.253–264;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Paul Dibb, Australia’s Strategic Outlook 2017–2027, Speech given at the Australian Defense Magazine Conference, February 22, 2007.Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    Paul Bracken, Fire in the East: The Rise of Asian Military Power and the Second Nuclear Age (HarperCollins, New York, 1999).Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    Kurt M. Campbell, Robert J. Einhorn, and Mitchell B. Reiss (Eds.), The Nuclear Tipping Point: Why States Reconsider Their Nuclear Choices (Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DC, 2004).Google Scholar
  8. 19.
    For example, there have been recent discussions between IAEA and Egyptian officials regarding the feasibility of the latter establishing its own nuclear program. There is a very strong potential for states such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to develop nuclear weapons, or at least increase internal latency, in response to Iran’s program. See, for example, Dalia Kaye and Frederic Wehrey, “A Nuclear Iran: The Reactions of Neighbours,” Survival, Vol. 49, No. 2 (2007), pp.111–118; Yoav Stern, “Jordan Announces Plans to Build Nuclear Power Plant by 2015,” Haaretz, April 2, 2007; Devi Sharmila, “Jordan Considers Nuclear Programme,” Financial Times, January 20, 2007; Mike Wheeler, “The Changing Requirements of Extended Deterrence” (Institute for Defense Analyses, June 2011); Josh Rogin, “New Poll: Egyptians Turning toward Iran, Want Nuclear Weapons,” Foreign Policy, October 19, 2012, Available at: Scholar
  9. 22.
    Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review (Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 2006).Google Scholar
  10. 28.
    Shipping Tang, “A Systemic Theory of the Security Environment,” Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1 (2004), pp. 1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 29.
    Aaron Karp, “The New Indeterminacy of Deterrence and Missile Defense,” Con-temporary Security Policy, Vol. 25, No. 1 (2004), pp.71–87. According to David Gompert, “a global network of deterrence relationships, stable in theory, would be fraught with ambiguities and doubts in practice.” See also Arthur Lee Burns, “From Balance to Deterrence: A Theoreatical Analysis,” World Politics, Vol. 9, No. 4 (1957).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 32.
    Alois Mertes, cited in David Yost, “Assurance and U.S. Extended Deterrence in NATO,” International Affairs, Vol. 85, No. 4 (2009), p. 764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 35.
    For a comprehensive overview of Japanese attitudes toward END, see James L. Schoff, Realigning Priorities: The U.S.-Japan Alliance and the Future of Extended Deterrence (Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, Boston, MA, 2010). See the interview with a Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, p. 30.Google Scholar
  14. 38.
    Australian Department of Defense, Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030 (Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 2009), para. 4.57.Google Scholar
  15. 47.
    Institute for International Policy Studies, A New Phase in the Japan-US Alliance, The Japan-US Alliance toward 2020. Project Report (Tokyo, 2009), p. 10.Google Scholar
  16. 48.
    Matsumura Masahiro, Prudence and Realism in Japan’s Nuclear Options (Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DC, 2006). Available at: Scholar
  17. 49.
    See, for example, Rod Lyon, A Delicate Issue: Asia’s Nuclear Future (Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Canberra, 2009).Google Scholar
  18. 50.
    Hugh White, “Extended Deterrence: A Game of Bluff,” in Rory Medcalf (Ed.), Weathering Change: The Future of Extended Nuclear Deterrence (Lowy Institute for International Policy, Sydney, 2011). p. 12.Google Scholar
  19. 55.
    See, for example, Jan Van Tol, Mark Gunzinger, Andrew Krepinevich, and Jim Thomas, AirSea Battle: A Point-of-Departure Operational Concept (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Washington, DC, 2010);Google Scholar
  20. Thomas G. Mahnken, Dan Blumenthal, Thomas Donnelly, Michael Mazza, Gary J. Schmitt, and Andrew Shearer, Asia in the Balance: Transforming U.S. Military Strategy in Asia (American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, 2012); Australian Department of Defense, “Defense White Paper 2013” (Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 2013); Amitav Acharya, “The United States in Asia-Pacific: The Changing Balance of Power,” Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada, April 29, 2010. Available at: Scholar
  21. 59.
    Desmond Ball, “Nuclear War at Sea,” International Security, Vol. 10, No. 3 (Winter 1985–1986), pp. 3–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 60.
    See, for example, remarks by Dr. Tim Huxley, Naval Enhancement: How to Build Regional Confidence. Council for Security Cooperation General Conference, Hanoi, November 2011; Richard A. Bitzinger, “East Asian Arms Acquisitions Activities, 2011–2012,” CSCAP Regional Security Outlook 2012 (Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific).Google Scholar
  23. 62.
    For a superb discussion of this issue, see Robert Ayson, “Arms Control in Asia: Yesterday’s Concept for Today’s Region?,” Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 67, No. 1 (2013), pp. 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 65.
    Scott Sagan and Kenneth Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed (W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 2003), Second edition.Google Scholar
  25. 66.
    Henry Trofimenko, “Changing Attitudes towards Deterrence,” in Bernard Brodie, Michael D. Intriligator, and Roman Kolkowicz (Eds.), National Security and International Stability (Oelgeschlager, Gunn & Hain, Publishers, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1984). pp. 98–99. 67.Google Scholar
  26. For an excellent discussion on nuclear diplomacy and crisis management in a multinuclear world, and how to live through a second nuclear age, see Paul Bracken, The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics (Times Books, New York, 2012).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Christine M. Leah 2014

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations