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BRIEFER: Converging Risks in South Asia: Is a Disruptive Transition on the Horizon?

SarangShidoreTNBy Sarang Shidore

South Asia spans multiple countries that were formerly either directly or effectively a component of British India. These include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and the Maldives. The subcontinent has had a traumatic history in modern times. Political partition in the wake of independence from colonial rule in 1947 left enormous death in its wake, particularly in the northwestern part of the region. Major conflicts such as the 1971 India-Pakistan war (which birthed the new state of Bangladesh) and bloody civil wars in Sri Lanka and Nepal added to suffering in the region. In addition, democracy has often been on the defensive in South Asia, with Pakistan experiencing multiple military coups and Bangladesh and India going through shorter authoritarian spells in the 1970s and 80s.

With a population of nearly 1.3 billion, India lies at the geographic and demographic core of South Asia. India’s future, perhaps more than that of any other country in the region, is likely to affect the rest of South Asia. The other countries of the region are also critical for regional security. Pakistan and Bangladesh have a combined population of close to 400 million, but often get less attention, namely because of the presence of their massive neighbor, India. Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives, though much smaller, impact the region in more subtle but important ways. As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, the major historical challenges South Asia has faced are being magnified by a complex set of risks. These include earth systems risk (such as climate change and pandemics), economic risk, governance risk, and inter-state conflict risk; the latter also with a dangerous nuclear dimension. Moreover, two external and competing major powers are playing a growing role in South Asia’s future – the United States and China – with complex and uncertain impacts on security.

As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, the major historical challenges South Asia has faced are being magnified by a complex set of risks. These include earth systems risk (such as climate change and pandemics), economic risk, governance risk, and inter-state conflict risk; the latter also with a dangerous nuclear dimension. Moreover, two external and competing major powers are playing a growing role in South Asia’s future – the United States and China – with complex and uncertain impacts on security.

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The Human and Climatic Effects of an India-Pakistan Nuclear Conflict

Indian Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile

An Indian Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile on a road-mobile launcher, displayed at the Republic Day Parade, New Delhi’s Rajpath, January 26, 2004. Antônio Milena (ABr)

By Christine Parthemore

On October 2, a team of researchers published the results of extensive work to model the effects of nuclear war between Pakistan and India. The scenario, posited for the year 2025, examined features a high-casualty terrorist attack on Indian government officials resulting in widespread conflict between these countries. 

In “Rapidly expanding nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and India portend regional and global catastrophe,” published in Science Advances, the authors chose a scenario in which India and Pakistan successfully use 300 strategic nuclear weapons against one another’s urban targets. Their chosen scenario entails further conflict, but with some weapons failing to detonate and some being targeted at remote military sites for which damage was not included. (more…)

BRIEFER: Nuclear, climate, and security issues in Nigeria

CSR Briefer Three CoverBy Andrea Rezzonico and Christine Parthemore

 

As Africa’s largest economy with a monumentally large and young population, Nigeria is a critical country whose future is often seen as a key factor in regional stability. It is also experiencing a wide range of pressures, including terrorist threats, water stress, high energy demands, and one of the world’s highest rates of urbanization, among others. Like many countries, Nigeria’s story is that of a fragile nation—facing many challenges but holding strong potential—seeking nuclear energy to help meet its mounting energy needs.

 

The Council of Strategic Risks, the parent organization of the Center for Climate and Security, explores this landscape in its latest briefer, “Converging Risks in Nigeria: Nuclear Energy Plans, Climate Fragility, and Security Trends.” (more…)

Release: New Report on Converging Nuclear Energy, Climate and Security Risks in Egypt

CSR Working Group on Climate Nuclear Security Affairs_Egypt Report_2019_6_11Washington, DC, June 12, 2019 – Today the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR), the parent organization of the Center for Climate and Security, released a new report titled “Nuclear Energy Developments, Climate Change, and Security in Egypt,” through its Converging Risks Lab program. The report explores the ways in which nuclear, climate and security trends are converging in this critical country – an under-explored yet potentially very consequential security issue.

This report comes on the heels of U.S. policy-makers in Congress recognizing the importance of understanding the intersection of nuclear and climate trends. Last week, the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Strategic Forces approved language to the FY20 National Defense Authorization Bill stating that the Department of Defense “must plan to ensure the viability of the nuclear enterprise” at least throughout the planned nuclear modernization program. As such, it requires “the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy, to provide a report to the House Committee on Armed Services not later than March 31, 2020, assessing the effects of climate change on the U.S. nuclear enterprise, to include bases, ports, laboratories, plants, sites, and testing facilities, through 2080.” (more…)