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No First Use: The Way to Contain Nuclear War in South Asia

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Major news media and think tanks have written and broadcast repeatedly about efforts to prevent nuclear war in South Asia, but relatively little attention has been paid to containment should a conflict between India and Pakistan break out. Even a limited nuclear exchange in South Asia would kill millions and have adverse environmental effects far beyond the region. Because India and Pakistan have ties to the world’s major nuclear powers, such an exchange also has the potential to expand into worldwide nuclear war. A US-led effort to engage the major nuclear powers in bilateral or multilateral no-first-use pledges would decrease the likelihood that a conflict between India and Pakistan could spin out of control. Beyond South Asia, a no-first-use policy would help the United States implement its nonproliferation agenda, promote stability between nuclear weapons states, and deemphasize the role of nuclear weapons in defense policy, saving the United States money and increasing world security.

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This article was originally published in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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