Avoiding Nuclear War in the Taiwan Strait
Weekly Newsletters

Avoiding Nuclear War in the Taiwan Strait



18 February 2022




Dear Network Members and Colleagues,

This week we feature two special reports from our project assessing nuclear weapons use in Northeast Asia. Sheryn Lee analyses how tensions in the Taiwan Strait might push a future conflict above the nuclear threshold, and Sangkyu Lee evaluates DPRK nuclear use scenarios from a military perspective. In commentaries, Kennedy Graham writes on how to achieve “effective universality” of the TPNW, and C. Raja Mohan discusses the Biden administration’s nuclear posture review. We also share two statements from our European sister network on the Ukraine crisis. 








Sheryn Lee, senior lecturer in the Department of Leadership and Command and Control at the Swedish Defence University, assesses the prospect of conflict and nuclear use in the Taiwan Strait.Lee argues that “Peaceful unification” on Beijing’s terms is unlikely to occur, due to China’s self-imposed goal of unification by 2049, the context of US-China competition, and Taiwan’s incremental trend towards greater political independence. But the use of nuclear weapons in the Taiwan Straits would occur only under extreme circumstances.



Read the Report (PDF)






Sangkyu Lee, Republic of Korea army officer and assistant professor at the Korea Military Academy, investigates possible nuclear use cases by the DPRK based on its nuclear capabilities and nuclear strategy.Lee analyzes the relative priorities and feasibility of the different DPRK nuclear use cases using parameters evaluating their military effect, the potential for US nuclear retaliation, and the level of civilian casualties.



Read the Report (PDF)

The reports are a part of a three year joint research project on modelling nuclear weapons use and Reducing the Risk of Nuclear Weapon Use in Northeast Asia (NU-NEA) with the Nautilus Institute and the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA).








Kennedy Graham, former New Zealand diplomat and member of parliament, discusses the path towards “effective universality” for the Treaty for Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by examining the relationship between treaty law and international customary law.



Read now






C. Raja Mohan, APLN member and Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, writing for the APLN-Korea Times column, discusses the Biden administration’s nuclear posture review and its implications for US extended deterrence in the Asia-Pacific.



Read now


In response to the Ukraine crisis, APLN’s sister network, the European Leadership Network, issued two group statements on how it can be overcome and resolved, signed by senior and younger leadership figures from the US, Russia and Europe.





Beyond Deterrence: A Peace Game Exercise for the Korean Peninsula
APLN senior fellow Jessica Lee, together with Frank Aum, senior expert on Northeast Asia at the US Institute of Peace co-wrote a policy brief, proposing peace games on the Korean Peninsula. Also reported in the Washington Post. Read more





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