Policy Analysis

“The Case against Nuclear Sharing in East Asia,” The Washington Quarterly 44, no. 4 (Winter 2021): 67-87 (with Do Young Lee)

Should the United States introduce policies of nuclear sharing in East Asia to shore up its alliances against emerging regional threats? Reviewing the concept and its historical manifestations, we argue that policies of nuclear sharing are likely to prove strategically counterproductive for America’s East Asian alliances. Nuclear sharing is predicated on the assumption that deterrence can be enhanced by devolving significant nuclear responsibilities and assets to allied territory, thereby presenting the adversary with the prospect of rapid nuclear escalation upon the initiation of hostilities. East Asia’s geopolitical environment and conventional balance differ markedly from those that prevailed during the heyday of nuclear sharing in Cold War Europe and do not suggest a clear military rationale for such a policy. At the same time, nuclear sharing may provoke regional adversaries into taking hostile actions they might not otherwise take and exacerbate strategic discord within the U.S.-led alliance system. While nuclear sharing can and should be a topic of serious debate for U.S. alliance policy in East Asia, then, the onus is on its advocates to show why such an arrangement would be strategically sensible in the region despite its risks.

%d bloggers like this: