Dangerous Deterrent: Nuclear Weapons Proliferation and Conflict in South Asia

by S. Paul Kapur

Studies in Asian Security

Publisher: Stanford: Stanford University Press
Available From: Stanford University Press
Publication Date: 2007
ISBN: 978-0-8047-5550-4
Binding: paper
Pages: 280














Dangerous Deterrent is the fifth book in the Studies in Asian Security series sponsored by the East-West Center and published by Stanford University Press.


Does nuclear weapons proliferation cause ongoing conflicts to diminish or to intensify? The spread of nuclear weapons to South Asia offers an opportunity to investigate this crucial question. Optimistic scholars argue that by threatening to raise the cost of war astronomically, nuclear weapons make armed conflict in South Asia extremely unlikely. Pessimistic scholars maintain that nuclear weapons make the subcontinent war-prone, because of technological, political, and organizational problems. This book argues that nuclear weapons have destabilized the subcontinent, principally because of nuclear weapons' interaction with India and Pakistan's territorial preferences and relative military capabilities. These findings challenge both optimistic and pessimistic conventional wisdom and have implications beyond South Asia.



Details and ordering information at


Stanford University Press




















  1. The Problem of Proliferation
  2. Militarized Behavior During the South Asian Proliferation Process
  3. Territorial Preferences and Military Capabilities
  4. The Nonnuclear Period
  5. The De Facto Nuclear Period
  6. The Overt Nuclear Period
  7. Beyond South Asia
  8. Dangerous Deterrent









"Kapur's important new book Dangerous Deterrent sets out to challenge the idea that nuclear weapons are a 'factor for stability' in South Asia and to... go beyond the standard arguments of scholars who consider the spread of nuclear weapons to be a danger principally because of the intrinsic character and limitations of the politics, technology, and organizations associated with these weapons."

--Japanese Journal of Political Science


"Scholars often assume that after decades of intense study during the Cold War, the political effects of nuclear weapons are well understood. The innovative arguments in Kapur's Dangerous Deterrent, which explores the consequences of India's and Pakistan's acquisition of nuclear weapons on conventional conflict between them, suggest that much room remains for insightful scholarship."

--Political Science Quarterly


"This book represents a landmark in South Asian security studies. It carefully blends significant empirical research with deft theoretical analysis."

--Sumit Ganguly, Indiana University


"This is an important book, containing valuable analysis about the effects of nuclear weapons on security in South Asia and broader insights about the potential effects of nuclear proliferation elsewhere around the globe."

--Scott Sagan, Stanford University


"[T]his book offers a succinct and theoretically and empirically sophisticated treatment of the dangers of proliferation in South Asia. [I]t is a major advance over many competing works."

--T.V. Paul, McGill University


"This is a well argued, nicely written analysis of a very important problem, and it deserves wide attention."

--Pacific Affairs