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【Special report No.23】”The Political Reckoning in a Post-Nuclear Use Landscape” (NU-NEA Project)
Image: In the background, a Urakami Cathedral on a hill in Nagasaki.
U.S. National Archives, 1945. 77-AEC-52-4459.

The Political Reckoning in a Post-Nuclear Use Landscape

Rabia Akhtar
July 11, 2024

This report is published under a 4.0 International Creative Commons License the terms of which are found here.
This report is simultaneously published by the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network, Nautilus Institute, and the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University (RECNA).
It was first published in the Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament.

Acknowledgements: This article was commissioned by the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network.



The international landscape, particularly in Northeast Asia, is portrayed as volatile due to the presence of nuclear-armed states, territorial disputes, and escalating geopolitical tensions. Considering this reality, this paper delves into the political ramifications of potential nuclear use in the Northeast Asia. It scrutinizes conceivable power shifts, the evolving role of anti-nuclear groups, and the broader impact on security policies. The exploration extends to scenarios post-nuclear use, encompassing positive, negative, and complex outcomes. The paper concludes by offering recommendations to policymakers, underscoring the imperative of substantive dialogues on arms control and conflict resolution to avert catastrophic nuclear events. Overall, the paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the multifaceted challenges posed by nuclear weapons in Northeast Asia and offers valuable insights for crafting a more secure global environment. Recent developments point towards a disconcerting unraveling of arms control structures and a growing threat to the nonproliferation regime. The paper underscores the dynamic evolution of nuclear deterrence, highlighting the strategic use of emerging technologies by states to reshape the balance of vulnerabilities.

Keywords: nuclear weapons; Asia-Pacific; North Korea; arms control; deterrence

Authors’ Profile:

Rabia Akhtar is Dean Faculty of Social Sciences at University of Lahore. A Professor of International Relations, she is also the founding Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Policy Research and of the School of Integrated Social Sciences at the University of Lahore, Pakistan. Dr. Akhtar has a PhD in Security Studies from Kansas State University. She holds Masters degrees in International Relations from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, and in Political Science from Eastern Illinois University, USA. Her scholarly pursuits have revolved around key areas such as South Asian nuclear security, deterrence dynamics, media in the age of deep fakes and disinformation, nuclear weapons, AI and emerging technologies, Pakistan’s foreign policy and national security imperatives, as well as regional and international security issues. She has authored a book titled, ‘The Blind Eye: U.S. Non-proliferation Policy Towards Pakistan from Ford to Clinton’, which showcases her expertise in the field. Moreover, she serves as the Editor of Pakistan Politico, Pakistan’s pioneering magazine on strategic and foreign affairs. Not only has Dr. Akhtar made significant contributions to academia, but she has also played a vital role in shaping foreign policy as a member of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs from 2018 to 2022. She is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the South Asia Center, Atlantic Council, Washington DC, and a Nonresident Fellow at BASIC, UK. Dr. Akhtar serves as a visiting faculty at the NATO Defence College, Rome, the NPIHP Nuclear Bootcamp, Rome and ISODARCO, Andalo, Italy. Dr. Akhtar is a visiting scholar (2024-2025) at the Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School.

Full text (PDF) is here.

The views represented herein are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the institutional positions.

The page for this project is here.

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