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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Frederic S. Pearson


The 2nd generation nuclear states India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea acquired nuclear weapons to ensure their security and bridge or accentuate balance of power. These four states have narrow strategic objectives, peculiar security environments and limited challenges. The main intent of this study was to identify change in their behavior after nuclearization in terms of force levels used to coerce or respond to opponents both in symmetric and asymmetric conflicts. Nuclear revolution theory asserts that there would be absence of war between two nuclear states and conflicts would be negotiated through conventional military instrument below war level. The study established that the new nuclear states demonstrated willingness to engage in symmetrical nuclear conflicts and even escalated it to war level, which was less prevalent among old nuclear states. In nuclear asymmetric conflicts these states exploited nuclear deterrent well to coerce non-nuclear opponents irrespective of conventional parity. The new nuclear states with conventional superiority exhibited an aggressive posture and used force at will to punish or coerce opponent conventional states to establish psychological ascendancy and realize national aims. The nuclear weapon capability also proved its efficacy, as it deterred any adventurism or aggression by other rival states. It was also determined that in asymmetric nuclear conflicts target states despite having conventional military superiority resorted to milder or no response against nuclear opponents. Nuclear deterrence contributed towards stability as both states in symmetrical conflicts made efforts to retain conflict below war level, while in case of asymmetrical conflict most of the conflicts were initiated by the nuclear states and responded at lower force levels.

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