Nuclear Weapons and Coercive Escalation in Regional Conflicts: Lessons from North Korea and Pakistan
CNA ANALYSIS AND SOLUTIONS ARLINGTON VA
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Nuclear weapons may create greater space for smaller powers to engage in coercive attacks and even limited military operations at lower levels of escalation. This study explores this phenomenon through examination of two case studies North Korea and Pakistan. The paper addresses key trends and current thinking on nuclear deterrence, reviews recent research on nuclear weapons and coercion, develops testable hypotheses based on this literature, and explores these questions through analysis of North Korean and Pakistani nuclear capabilities, strategy, and doctrine, as well as instances of coercive escalation by both countries. The paper concludes by identifying common themes across the two cases and drawing implications for U.S. policy and military strategy.
- Nuclear Weapons