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The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) has successfully engaged the strategic communities in India, Pakistan and China on a range of issues concerning regional security and stability through its India-China-Pakistan Trilateral Dialogue at the Track II level. This is a unique endeavor by IPCS, supported by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (Washington) with the objective to sustain and consolidate dialogue between the three countries for better understanding and interaction on nuclear thresholds, doctrines, crisis management, non proliferation and elimination of nuclear weapons. Through this trilateral dialogue, IPCS successfully brings together key interlocutors from India, China and Pakistan to specifically address the complexities and dangers of nuclearization in Asia.

Five rounds of dialogues have taken place so far; each dialogue built constructively from the previous one and aimed to induce transparency and better understanding of each country’s security and threat perceptions as well as attitude towards nuclear disarmament. While the three initial dialogues identified threat and security perceptions and major areas of concern, the fourth and fifth rounds, held in the year 2011, proceeded towards making recommendations for addressing these concerns. The conference participants have included prominent strategists, military persons, policymakers and academicians from India, China and Pakistan.

The trilateral track II level dialogue addresses the following issues:

  • Emerging Global nuclear dangers and rising threat perceptions.
  • Review global disarmament measures and study their implications and implementations in the region.
  • Explore nuclear doctrinal transparency.
  • Review existing nuclear CBMs and recommend expansions.
  • Limiting fissile material stockpiles and halting production.
  • Examine issues hindering nuclear weapons elimination.
  • Continue to explore possible steps towards nuclear weapons elimination and enhancing their effectiveness.

Since 2008, Conferences have been held in Colombo, Shanghai, Singapore, Bangkok and Beijing.  

This Dialogue is supported by the Nuclear Threat Initiative

Indian Delegation from IPCS met experts at the China Reform Forum on 27 September 2011 along the sidelines of the Fifth Trilateral Dialogue in Beijing.
(L-R) Dr D Suba Chandran, Director, IPCS, Maj Gen Pan Zhenqiang, Deputy Chairman, China Foundation for International Studies, Beijing, Maj Gen Dipankar Banerjee, Mentor, IPCS and Convenor of the Trilateral dialogue, Amb Shamshad Ahmad, Former Foreign Secretary, Pakistan.
Hon Indian Ambassador to China Shri S Jaishankar interacted with the Indian delegation at the Indian Embassy in China.
Towards a More Secure Asia and the World
The Fifth Round of Dialogue
29-30 September 2011, Beijing

The Fifth India-China-Pakistan (trilateral) nuclear strategic dialogue took place in Beijing (China) from 29 September toGroup Photo1.jpg 30 September 2011. The theme of this trilateral dialogue was titled to ‘Towards a More Secure Asia and the World’. The objective of this round was to bring together the agreements that were reached in the previous rounds so as to consolidate the cooperative endeavours towards not only a more safe and secure Asia but a more safe and secure world too. 

Building on the themes of transparency discussed in depth over the previous year’s dialogues several related issues were examined in detail – especially those elements of each other’s doctrine that parties found the most alarming and/or destabilizing. The doctrine of No First Use was discussed in depth. Each country’s threat perceptions were addressed, and threat reduction measures were suggested. While clarifying and examining, doctrines, the need for common definitions was felt. Possible avenues for joint action towards a goal of global nuclear zero were explored. The credibility and feasibility of current international thrusts in the areas of disarmament and non-proliferation were broached as well as how Asian approaches could modify and transform, assist or accelerate the debate into concrete action.

Topics discussed

1.   Recent developments in the nuclear realm: 2011

Objective:  Assist transparency, develop awareness and indicate future directions towards CBMs.

  • Major developments around the world affecting nuclear strategic issues in the last year
  • Significant developments in respective (own) countries in terms of policy, weapons or doctrine
  • Major likely future developments
  • An overall assessment of threats and trends
2.   Nuclear doctrines: towards greater clarity and harmonization

Objective: Clarity on each other’s doctrines, consider and explain why any part of another’s doctrine may be threatening or destabilizing and assess measures to overcome the negatives.

  • Defining respective nuclear doctrines
  • Issues regarding the nuclear doctrine of other countries in Asia affecting own doctrine
  • What commonalities can be found amongst nuclear doctrines?
  • What aspect of another’s nuclear doctrine may be considered most hostile or destabilizing?
3.   Towards a secure global nuclear future: approaches to global zero

Objective: Determine whether we can formulate a common policy towards Global Zero.

  • What is the state of the global debate?
  • What progress, if any, is likely in the near future?
  • What measures may we address or recommend?
4.   Nuclear security in Asia – building confidence between nations

Objective: To develop a better understanding of each other’s security concerns and overcome these through specific confidence building measures.

  • Where are the doctrinal disharmonies and how can these be addressed?
  • What measures can we undertake to reduce the perceptions of threat?

Can you suggest specific confidence building measures, globally, together in Asia and bilaterally?

(L-R) Amb KC Singh (India), Dr Zhong Jing (China), Rear Adm Raja Menon (India), Dr Sun Xiangli (China) and Air Vice Marshall, Shahzad Chaudhry (Pakistan)
Amb Lalit Mansingh (India) and Prof Ma Jiali (China) at the Fifth India-China-Pakistan Nuclear Strategic Dialogue at Hotel Wanshou in Beijing
(L-R) Prof Ma Jiali (China), Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar (India), Prof Shen Dingli (China) and Amb Cheng Ruisheng (China).
Beyond the NPT -Towards a More Secure Asia
The Fourth Round of Dialogue:
28-29 January 2011, Bangkok

The aim of the fourth round of nuclear strategic dialogue between India, Pakistan and China was to focus on nuclear safety, security and stability on the way towards a nuclear weapons free world. The meeting aimed at a better understanding of mutual policies and security concerns. It was understood that participants were representing only themselves and not speaking on behalf of their governments or their particular institutions.

trilatWith the New START having been ratified it was decided that momentum needed to be created on the stalled CTBT and FMCT debate. Discussions focused on the unintended but clearly visibly destabilizing consequences of disarmament. Moreover the nightmares of sub/non state actors getting their hands on devices optimized for a hair trigger opaque deterrent were also visited – especially given the then prevalent state of high tension between India and Pakistan. The larger Pan-Asian dynamics of nuclear proliferation and root causes were examined such as the imperatives of Iran and North Korea, and the need for a risk-reduction centre operating in spite of global political winds was appreciated. The dangers of developing nuclear war fighting capabilities and tactical warheads were also visited as were tangible leads and positive developments towards disarmament.

Topics discussed

1.  Nuclear strategic trends and issues in 2011
  • Implications of the New START in Asia
  • An Agenda for the Conference on Disarmament
  • A Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty - In what time frame?
  • FMCT - Is it necessary? Is it possible? Views and recommendations
2.  Nuclear doctrines- towards greater stability in Asia
  • Deterrence stability –Possibilities and challenges
  • Towards a more stable interim deterrence posture
  • Revisiting “no first use” – possible to make it effective?
3.  Enhancing nuclear security in Asia
  • Assessing North Korean and Iranian nuclear developments
  • Developing reliable risk reduction measures – bilaterally or multilaterally
  • Banning tactical and battlefield nuclear weapons
4.  Steps towards a secure global nuclear future
  • Re-inventing the approach to global zero
  • Secure nuclear energy options
  • Improving dialogue mechanism and policies-Future Rounds
Pictures-Sid 170
(L-R) Dr Li Li (China), Lt Gen Talat Masood (Pakistan) and Maj Gen Dipankar Banerjee (India)
(L-R) Prof R Rajaraman (India), Prof Shen Dingli (China), Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar (India) and Air Vice Marshal Shahzad Chaudhry (India)
Participants from India, China and Pakistan at the Fourth Trilateral Dialogue held in Bangkok in January 2011.
Towards a Stable Nuclear Order in South Asia
The Third Round of Dialogue
31 July-1 August 2010, Singapore

The trilateral dialogue in Singapore is a continuation of the one held in the previous Picture3.pngyear in Shanghai which saw discussions on a number of issues concerning the nuclear stability of South Asia. In continuation with the spirit of nuclear non-proliferation and the goal of global zero, this trilateral occurred in the backdrop of three major developments- The Nuclear Security Summit, the United States Nuclear Posture Review, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. These major developments occurred alongside other global developments affecting nuclear security in Asia.

Topics Discussed

1.  Nuclear Strategic Trends 2010
  • The Nuclear Security Summit and its implications on Southern Asia
  • Discussion of developments in the NPT Review Conference 2010
  • A nuclear weapons free world- In what time frame?

2.  Nuclear Doctrines- Towards Greater Stability and Security
  • Assessment of Nuclear Threats
  • A safer Nuclear Doctrine
  • “No first use”- a realistic and credible policy
  • Preventing Ballistic Missile Proliferation
3.  Asian Security in the context of Global Trends: Cooperation or Conflict?
  • North Korean Nuclear Developments
  • Iranian nuclear developments
  • Nuclear weapons and terrorism – Preventing a holocaust
  • CTBT and FMCT- Prospects & Possibilities
4.  Steps towards a secure Global Nuclear Future
  • An Asian approach to abolishing nuclear weapons – What is the tipping point?
  • Improving dialogue mechanism and policies-Future Rounds
Prof Shen Dingli, Fudan University making a presentation
at the Third Round of India-China-Pakistan nuclear Strategic
Dialogue held in 2010 at Singapore.
(L-R) Dr Niu Qiang, CPAPD (China) and
Amb Najmuddin Sheikh (Pakistan)

Eliminating Nuclear Weapons – Cooperative Steps from Asia
The Second Round of Dialogue
8-9 August 2009, Shanghai

group phote of Shanghai conf1.jpgThe IPCS, with support from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, held its second trilateral dialogue between India, China and Pakistan in Fudan University, Shanghai on 8-9 August 2009.
This is the first time, even at Track II level that India, China, and Pakistan met to discuss substantive issues relating to a stable nuclear order in Asia including the possibilities of nuclear weapons elimination. In continuation with the path breaking trilateral dialogue first held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in December 2008, experts from the three countries continued their deliberations in Shanghai.

The conference participants included prominent strategists, military persons, policymakers and academicians from India, China and Pakistan.

Topics discussed

1.  Global Nuclear Strategic Trends
  • An assessment of Global Nuclear Trends as seen from respective countries, including
      strategies, doctrines and moves towards disarmament
  • START Prospects
  • CTBT and FMCT: Impending Dialogues and Deliberations
  • Towards 2010 NPT RevCon
  • The Quartet Proposals, Global Zero and Base Camp
2.  Towards Asian Nuclear Stability and Security
  •  Assessment of threats and concerns, including from nation states and non-state actors
  • Respective security concerns and doctrines
  • Korean nuclear developments
  • Iranian nuclear developments
  • Nuclear weapons and terrorism
  • Nuclear non-proliferation beyond the NPT 
3.  Asian Security in the context of Global Trends: Cooperation or Conflict?
  • Can Asian way be different? – Avoiding Launch on Warning, Tactical Nuclear Weapons, First Strike Doctrines
  • Relevance and role of nuclear weapons to Asian Security
  • Harmonizing doctrines for cooperative security
  • Developing confidence building measures and dialogues
4.  Steps towards a Secure Global Nuclear Future
  • An Asian approach to abolishing nuclear weapons – What is the tipping point?
  • A nuclear weapons free world, in what time frame?
  • Conventional forces reduction?
  • Evolving dialogue mechanism and policies
(Top and Bottom): Amb Cheng Ruisheng, Former
Chinese Ambassador to India and Amb KC Singh, Former
Secretary (Economic Relations), Ministry of External Affair.
Eliminating Nuclear Weapons – Cooperative Steps from Asia
The First (Planning) Round of Dialogue
6-7 December 2008, Colombo

Trilateral Planning Conference on Addressing the Future of Nuclear Weapons-1.jpg The IPCS held the trilateral planning conference on "Eliminating Nuclear Weapons - Cooperative Steps from Asia" on 6-7 December 2008 in Colombo. This was the first time, even at Track II level that India, China, and Pakistan met to discuss on important nuclear issues concerning the three countries and deliberated on the possibility of forming an “Asian View” to achieve the goal of “Nuclear Weapon Free World.”

A total of 16 experts (six each from India and Pakistan, and four from China), with expertise in nuclear doctrine, missile defense, fissile material, disarmament questions and nuclear command and control issues participated in the planning conference.

Topics discussed at the planning conference

  • Global nuclear dangers and threat perception.
  • Examination of nuclear doctrines.
  • Existing nuclear CBMs.
  • Fissile material stockpiles and control and production ban.
  • Issues hindering nuclear weapons elimination.
  • A possible process of moving towards nuclear weapons elimination.
(L-R)Dr Niu Qiang, Rear Admiral Ravi Vohra,
Dr Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema and Brig Naeem Salik


Research team of the Nuclear Security Programme
Ruhee Neog
Research Officer
Tanvi Kulkarni
Research Officer
Alankrita Sinha  
Research Officer   
Abhijit Iyer-Mitra
Research Officer

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

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