Extended nuclear deterrence in East Asia: redundant or resurgent?



    1. Professor of International Relations and Director of the Grifth Asia Institute at Grifth University.
    Search for more papers by this author
    • This article was written as part of an Australian Research Council project (LP0883246).


A number of commentators have claimed that the strategic relevance of extended nuclear deterrence is declining in the twenty-first century. This claim is based on three key arguments. First, that the positive effects of extended nuclear deterrence have been exaggerated by its proponents; second, that the rational actor logic underpinning extended nuclear deterrence is increasingly redundant; and third, that extended deterrence using conventional weapons is equally, if not more, effective as extended nuclear deterrence. This article applies these arguments to East Asia, a region where nuclear weapons continue to loom large in states' security equations. In applying each of the above arguments to the East Asian context, the analysis finds that not only is extended nuclear deterrence alive and kicking in the region, but also that in the coming decades it is likely to become more central to the strategic policies of the United States and its key allies, Japan and South Korea. Despite predictions of its demise, US extended nuclear deterrence remains a critical element in East Asia's security order and will remain so for the foreseeable future.