South Asia and China Regional Meeting 2017
Event Reports

South Asia and China Regional Meeting 2017

Summary (To view the full report, please download the file on the left.)

APLN members from South Asia and China met in New Delhi 20-21 January 2017 to review global nuclear threats and the regional challenge posed by the nuclear deterrence triad between China, India and Pakistan. Hosted by our local partner, the Observer Research Foundation, the meeting was held back-to-back with the ORF’s Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship conference engaging with geopolitics and geo-economics.

The meeting focused on three issues. First, the global nuclear disarmament outlook in the context of the forthcoming start to the United Nations mandated negotiation of a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

Second, in the search for practical measures to relieve regional nuclear tensions, the meeting examined the potential applicability to Asia-Pacific of the arrangements under the Treaty on Open Skies, which established a regime of unarmed observation flights over the territories of participating countries in Europe and North America.

Third, recognising that regional nuclear threats and their elimination are inextricably linked to the broader geo-strategic context, how can we reduce the trust deficit in managing and containing nuclear tensions between China, India and Pakistan? Aspects of that analysis included:

– Current nuclear risk flash points.

– The adequacy of current regional security structures.

– Precursors for reducing nuclear tensions and increasing trust.

– And the potential for confidence building measures.

Chaired by Co-Convenor Ramesh Thakur, APLN participants came from China (Fan Jishe and Shen Dingli), India (our host Rakesh Sood, Rajamurti Rajaraman, Shashi Tyagi, and Siddharth Varadarajan); Pakistan (Pervez Hoodbhoy); Sri Lanka (Jayantha Dhanapala and HMGS Palihakkara); plus, Hyung T Hong representing Co-Convenor Chung-in Moon, and APLN Research Director John Tilemann. The meeting also benefited from the participation of an expert from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Robin Mossinkoff whose contributions were particularly valuable to our exchanges on the relevance of North Atlantic experience in confidence building measures (CBMs) to the circumstances of Asia-Pacific. Unfortunately, several additional members were late withdrawals, in part due to the regional security situation, in part due to practical scheduling problems.

The meeting was conducted in conformity with the Chatham House rule.


Appendix I: Program

Welcome remarks by:

APLN Co-convenor Ramesh Thakur and

Hyung Taek Hong representing Co-convenor Chung-in Moon

Rakesh Sood, Distinguished Fellow, ORF, host

– Outline of administrative and organisational matters

– Outline of the agenda and program

Session 1 Regional perspectives on and priorities for the 2017 conferences on a nuclear weapons ban treaty

– normative impact

– practical utility

– relationship to the NPT

Chair: Ramesh Thakur

Introductory remarks

– Shen Dingli

– Jayantha Dhanapala

– R. Rajaraman

Session 2 A regional Open Skies agreement/treaty

– description of existing treaty

– technical requirements

– management issues

Chair: Ramesh Thakur

Introductory Remarks

– Robin Mossinkoff

– Shashi Tyagi

– Pervez Hoodbhoy

– Fan Jishe

Session 3 Reducing the trust deficit in managing and containing nuclear tensions: China, India and Pakistan

– current nuclear risk flash points

– the adequacy of current regional security structures

– precursors to reducing nuclear tensions and increasing trust

– potential for trilateral CBMs

Chair: Ramesh Thakur

Introductory Remarks

– HMGS Palihakkara

– Siddharth Varadarajan

– Fan Jishe

Session 4 Conclusions and recommendations

Chair: Ramesh Thakur

– suggested follow up action

– priorities for next sub-regional meeting: dates; themes; partner/venue


Appendix II: Participants

Invited guests

Robin Mossinkoff (Head FSC Support Section, Conflict Prevention Centre/FSC Support Section, OSCE)

Hyung Taek Hong (Head of APLN Secretariat, R.O.K.)

APLN members


Ramesh Thakur (Co-Convenor)

John Tilemann (Director of Research, APLN)


Shen Dingli (Associate Dean, Institute of International Studies, Fudan University)

Fan Jishe (Deputy Director, Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation Studies, CASS)


Rakesh Sood (former Ambassador to Conference on Disarmament)

R. Rajaraman (Emeritus Professor of Physics at Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Siddharth Varadarajan (Founding Editor, The Wire)

Shashi Tyagi (former Chief of the Indian Air Force)


Pervez Hoodbhoy (Professor of Nuclear and High-Energy Physics, Quaid-e-Azam University)

Sri Lanka

Jayantha Dhanapala (President, Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs)

HMGS Palihakkara (former Foreign Secretary and former Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and subsequently New York)

Report prepared by APLN Director of Research, John Tilemann


Image: Pixabay stock, Shalender Kumar.

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