© 2014 Royal Irish Academy. All Rights Reserved. Nuclear rivalry in south Asia is discussed almost exclusively in terms of the India-Pakistan binary relationship. However, the detail of the nuclear weapons proliferation in the region cannot be reviewed without taking account of the triangular relationship between China, India and Pakistan, and examining the wider global context. This article explores the understudied Indian and Chinese nuclear strategies, analyses their motivations in strengthening their nuclear weapons capabilities and the role of international norms and regimes on nonproliferation in their national decision making. It concludes that for China the perceived threat is primarily the USA; for India it is primarily China. Both have the economic capacity for nuclear investments and the desire of powerful states to access the large Chinese and Indian markets meant there was no real threat of sanctions. The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) have been largely irrelevant to their nuclear calculations, indicating a weak norm and a weak regime against strong and emerging powers. Ultimately, it was the power relations between states and not the international regime which framed their decision-making. The article also explores the compatibility of these states’ respective nuclear strategies with the renewed call for global nuclear disarmament in the wake of President Obama’s 2009 Prague speech, arguing ultimately that measures and counter-measures taken will result in nuclear weapons continuing to play a central role in Chinese and Indian national security efforts.