A Need to Rebalance U.S. Nonproliferation Policy

By Gregory D. Koblentz

Gregory D. Koblentz is an Associate Professor in the School of Policy, Government and International Affairs at George Mason University and author of the Council on Foreign Relations report, Strategic Stability in the Second Nuclear Age.

South Asia is the region of the world at highest risk of suffering a nuclear crisis due to an explosive mixture of unresolved territorial disputes, cross-border terrorism, and growing nuclear arsenals. While the Middle East will remain a focal point for international nonproliferation efforts for the foreseeable future, the United States needs to rebalance its nonproliferation priorities towards Asia. India and Pakistan are engaged in a nuclear and missile arms race that, if left unchecked, threatens regional security and the global nonproliferation regime.

While Iran has accepted strict, albeit temporary, limits on the operation of its gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facilities and heavy water reactor, India and Pakistan have continued to expand their capabilities to produce weapons-grade nuclear material using those very same technologies. India is reportedly constructing a new industrial-scale gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facility, the Special Material Enrichment Facility, in Karnataka and expanding its uranium enrichment facility at the Rare Materials Project in Mysore. Pakistan recently brought online its fourth heavy water reactor at Khusab as well as a new reprocessing facility at Chashma that can extract larger quantities of weapons-grade plutonium from the spent fuel produced by these reactors.

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