Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 23:32 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 23:32 | SYDNEY

Australia and nuclear deterrence II


Sam Roggeveen


9 July 2009 17:11

The quotes Rob Ayson selects from the Defence White Paper raise an interesting question about Australia's attitude to nuclear deterrence. The White Paper sounds a wary note in regard to the deterrence relationship between India and Pakistan:

The prospect of miscalculation between India and Pakistan leading to conflict and, in the worst case, massive escalation, remains of significant concern.

Yet when it comes to the role of US extend deterrence in the defence of Australia, there's a different attitude:

...extended nuclear deterrence...provides a stable and reliable sense of assurance...

Granted, the historical enmity and long border between India and Pakistan make it an especially dangerous nuclear hot-spot. But concern about the 'prospect of miscalculation' should not be confined to that region. After all, the only actual use of nuclear weapons occurred in North Asia, and there were close calls during the Korean War and the 1954-55 Taiwan Straits crisis too. Then there was the Cuban missile crisis and Able Archer.

When you consider how close the world came to nuclear war on each of these occasions, 'stability', 'reliability' and a 'sense of assurance' are not phrases that leap to mind.