The Political Reckoning in a Post-Nuclear Use Landscape
Nuclear Weapon Use Risk Reduction

The Political Reckoning in a Post-Nuclear Use Landscape

Read the full report.

In this special report, Rabia Akhtar provides a comprehensive analysis of the multifaceted challenges posed by nuclear weapons in Northeast Asia, including the good, the bad, and the ugly scenarios post-nuclear use and how nuclear weapons are perceived in the new normal. She offers valuable recommendations to policymakers to prevent nuclear use, emphasizing the need for substantive dialogues on arms control and conflict resolution.

This report was prepared for the project “Reducing the Risk of Nuclear Weapon Use in Northeast Asia.” The research described in this paper was co-sponsored by the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University (RECNA), the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, and the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (APLN), with collaboration from the Panel on Peace and Security of Northeast Asia (PSNA). MacArthur Foundation and New Land Foundation funding to Nautilus Institute supported this project.

This report is published simultaneously by the Nautilus Institute and by RECNA-Nagasaki University here. This report is published under a 4.0 International Creative Commons License the terms of which are found here. It was first published in the Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament here.

Click here to learn more about the project. Below is the report abstract.


The international landscape, particularly in Northeast Asia, is portrayed as volatile due to the presence of nuclear-armed states, territorial disputes, and escalating geopolitical tensions. Considering this reality, this paper delves into the political ramifications of potential nuclear use in the Northeast Asia. It scrutinizes conceivable power shifts, the evolving role of anti-nuclear groups, and the broader impact on security policies. The exploration extends to scenarios post-nuclear use, encompassing positive, negative, and complex outcomes. The paper concludes by offering recommendations to policymakers, underscoring the imperative of substantive dialogues on arms control and conflict resolution to avert catastrophic nuclear events. Overall, the paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the multifaceted challenges posed by nuclear weapons in Northeast Asia and offers valuable insights for crafting a more secure global environment. Recent developments point towards a disconcerting unraveling of arms control structures and a growing threat to the nonproliferation regime. The paper underscores the dynamic evolution of nuclear deterrence, highlighting the strategic use of emerging technologies by states to reshape the balance of vulnerabilities.


Nuclear weapons; Asia-Pacific; North Korea; Arms Control; Deterrence

About the Author

Rabia Akhtar is Dean Faculty of Social Sciences at University of Lahore. A Professor of International Relations, she is also the founding Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Policy Research and of the School of Integrated Social Sciences at the University of Lahore, Pakistan. Dr. Akhtar has a PhD in Security Studies from Kansas State University. She holds Masters degrees in International Relations from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, and in Political Science from Eastern Illinois University, USA. Her scholarly pursuits have revolved around key areas such as South Asian nuclear security, deterrence dynamics, media in the age of deep fakes and disinformation, nuclear weapons, AI and emerging technologies, Pakistan’s foreign policy and national security imperatives, as well as regional and international security issues. She has authored a book titled, ‘The Blind Eye: U.S. Non-proliferation Policy Towards Pakistan from Ford to Clinton’, which showcases her expertise in the field. Moreover, she serves as the Editor of Pakistan Politico, Pakistan’s pioneering magazine on strategic and foreign affairs. Not only has Dr. Akhtar made significant contributions to academia, but she has also played a vital role in shaping foreign policy as a member of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs from 2018 to 2022. She is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the South Asia Center, Atlantic Council, Washington DC, and a Nonresident Fellow at BASIC, UK. Dr. Akhtar serves as a visiting faculty at the NATO Defence College, Rome, the NPIHP Nuclear Bootcamp, Rome and ISODARCO, Andalo, Italy. Dr. Akhtar is a visiting scholar (2024-2025) at the Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School.

Disclaimer: The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Asia Pacific Leadership Network or any of its members. The APLN’s website is a source of authoritative research and analysis and serves as a platform for debate and discussion among our senior network members, experts and practitioners, as well as the next generation of policymakers, analysts and advocates. Comments and responses can be emailed to

Image: In the background, a Urakami Cathedral on a hill in Nagasaki. U.S. National Archives, 1945. 77-AEC-52-4459.

Related Articles