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The Stimson Center’s South Asia programming has several key elements: reducing
nuclear dangers and increasing deterrence stability
on the subcontinent;
analyzing crisis management in the United States, India and Pakistan; promoting
confidence-building and nuclear risk-reduction measures
; and nurturing talent
in a rising generation of strategic analysts by means of visiting fellowships and
workshops.

India and Pakistan are building up their nuclear weapon capabilities with
newer versions of land-based ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.  Both appear to be moving toward triads of
land- and, sea-based, as well as aircraft-delivered weapons. While there are
signs of diplomatic rapprochement, progress has been slow, and spoilers will
try to stymie any thaw. Moreover, it is hard to improve bilateral relations
when one or both countries have weak governments.  Pakistan’s domestic challenges are
particularly great.  Under these
circumstances, all of Stimson’s programming initiatives have significant
relevance.

Stimson has long been a thought leader and promoter of nuclear
risk-reduction and confidence-building measures
in South Asia. We view our role
as helping to develop creative thinking and worthwhile proposals within the
region to reduce nuclear dangers. Much useful analytical work can be done to
determine what measures might be considered to reduce nuclear dangers on the
subcontinent. We also encourage the cross-fertilization of ideas. The “tool
box” of risk reduction measures developed outside the region is quite
full. Our focus has been on how such measures might best be adapted to the
unique circumstances that obtain in South Asia. Stimson Center Stimson has
advanced proposals through workshops with knowledgeable and well-connected
Indian, Pakistani, and US participants; private meetings with key officials in
all three countries; research and publications; and public forums in the region.  All of the CBMs and NRRMs agreed to by the
Governments of Pakistan and India have previously been identified and promoted
in Stimson programming.

Stimson is also very proud of our visiting fellowship program, which began
in 1993 with private foundation support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the
Rockefeller Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation.  At the outset of this program, we focused on
rising Indian and Pakistani talent engaged in teaching at the university level;
print journalists covering bilateral relations and nuclear issues; and
individuals oriented toward what were then fledgling nongovernmental organizations.
Over seventy Visiting Fellows from Pakistan, India and China have enriched the
Stimson Center with their presence.

Stimson currently receives support for Visiting Fellowships from the
Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. These
fellowships are designated for Pakistani military officers from the Strategic
Plans Division at Joint Staff Headquarters and for civilians assigned to the
Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority.    

Crisis management has been a more
recent focus of Stimson’s South Asia program. A succession of unsettling crises
in 1986-7, 1990, 1999, 2001-2, and 2008 has raised concerns about war and
escalation control on the subcontinent. 
These crises have occurred during large-scale military exercises, in
conjunction with the Kashmir dispute, or after mass-casualty attacks by
Pakistani extremists on iconic Indian targets. 
Stimson has produced a series of important publications on escalation
control and crisis management, including a monograph, Escalation Control and the Nuclear Option in South Asia, and two
extensive case studies on US crisis management after the 2001-2 “Twin Peaks” crisis
and 2008 Mumbai crisis.

Deterrence stability doesn’t
evolve naturally and cannot be taken for granted. The most dangerous time for
deterrence stability and escalation control usually comes in the years
immediately after countries acquire nuclear capabilities. During this awkward
period, “red lines” – thresholds that, if crossed, could provoke
intense retaliation – and the nuclear balance are unclear, and substantial risk-reduction
arrangements have not been implemented. The early stages of the US-Soviet
nuclear competition were most harrowing, including a series of crises over
Berlin and the Cuban missile crisis. Similarly, India and Pakistan have lurched
from one crisis to the next during the first two decades after acquiring
nuclear weapons.

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