Abstract: Why do states provide nuclear weapons support to other states? This paper analyzes this question by examining China’s nuclear cooperation with Pakistan. Based on an original framework for explaining nuclear weapons support, I argue that two main factors drove China’s decision. First, China did not have to worry about cascade effects because India had already crossed the nuclear threshold. Second, Pakistan had major strategic value to China, and enjoyed a reputation for being a reliable partner. By arming Pakistan, China could maintain a favorable power balance in the region and prevent India from dominating South Asia.
The paper also criticizes existing supply-side theories of nuclear proliferation. These theories also describe the strategic incentives for helping other states to develop nuclear weapon, but they have largely overlooked the disincentives. I also challenge some of the case-specific literature. This literature claims that China halted its support of Pakistan from the mid-1990s because it finally recognized the dangers of nuclear proliferation. In contrast, I argue that China has continued, albeit more subtly, to support Islamabad’s weapons program.
About the Speaker: Henrik Hiim is a Stanton Nuclear Security Predoctoral Fellow at MIT. His main research interests are Chinese foreign policy, East Asian security, and nonproliferation and arms control. His dissertation examines the evolution of China’s approach to nuclear nonproliferation, with a special emphasis on policies towards North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan. Henrik holds an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Oslo. He has also studied at Renmin University and Huazhong Normal University in China. During spring 2013, he was a visiting scholar at the School of International Studies at Beijing University. Henrik has worked as a journalist for several Norwegian newspapers.