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A delicate issue: Asia's nuclear future

By Rod Lyon

The world stands on the cusp of a new era in nuclear relations—one in which Asia is likely to become the dominant influence on global nuclear arrangements. The old, bilateral nuclear symmetry of the Cold War is giving way to new multiplayer, asymmetric nuclear relationships. And it is doing so at a time when power balances are shifting across Asia, when pressures for proliferation are returning to the regional agenda, and when non-state actors are an increasingly worrying part of the Asian nuclear equation.

The paper, authored by Rod Lyon, argues that Australia’s own policy options will be profoundly shaped by how Asia’s nuclear future unfolds. It looks at how Australia can assist with redesigning nuclear order in a cooperative Asia but notes a darker, more competitive Asian nuclear future would confront Australian policymakers with difficult choices, of hedging rather than ordering.

The report concludes that Australian strategic policy should retain the flexibility to accommodate a range of possible Asian nuclear futures, striking a balance between its ordering and hedging strategies during a possible turbulent era in regional security.