Nonproliferation Review • 22.3/4 • September/December 2015

Volume 22 • Numbers 3/4


View this issue’s contributor bios


View this issue’s Editor’s note


Andrew Futter • Benjamin Zala • George M. Moore


An Analysis of the Threat of Malicious Chemical Use by Nonstate Actors: Questioning the State-based Approach to Chemical Nonproliferation
William Morgan Alley and Jessica L. Jones

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This study seeks to evaluate the threat of malicious chemical use by non-state actors. It finds that non-state actors have primarily turned to ready-to-use crude chemical weapons (CW) instead of traditional CW agents. Interestingly, the worst crude CW attacks have been more destructive than those employing traditional CW. Scenarios for catastrophic consequences exist, but chemical attacks have typically been used to accomplish tactical goals, which leverage psychological and economic impacts. Therefore, successful efforts to counter CW proliferation by non-state actors must be substantially different from those targeting states.

The Trust Paradox in Nuclear Smuggling
Egle Murauskaite

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This article explores the paradox of trust in the largest nuclear smuggling operation involving highly enriched uranium (HEU) discussed in open source literature. In the first effort to understand the type, extent, and role of trust in nuclear smuggling enterprises, it draws from literature on trust development in legitimate businesses as well as criminal enterprises. Observed behavioral patterns in this case challenge traditional notions of the internal dynamics of temporary groups engaged in nuclear smuggling and operational realities of such activities. The article seeks to explain why individuals agree (and continue) to operate in this high-risk environment, unbound by close personal ties, without any effort to verify the background, motives, or qualifications of the fellow conspirators. It offers ways to advance current nonproliferation efforts in non-state actor interdiction by exploiting the environment of shallow trust in temporary groups.

Effects of Nuclear Technology Export Competition on Nuclear Nonproliferation
Sungeol Choi and Il Soon Hwang

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While nuclear suppliers compete in markets, they simultaneously partner in other fields. This produces a delicate relationship between civilian nuclear programs and nuclear weapon proliferation. This study explores how export competition affects suppliers’ conditions of supply related to nuclear nonproliferation. We investigated three export cases (India, North Korea, and South Korea) and identified four effects that competition has on the conditions of supply related to nonproliferation. First, under highly competitive conditions, suppliers might hesitate to enforce the conditions of supply to avoid negotiation conflicts with recipients. Second, suppliers focus on politically and economically attractive recipients while mostly ignoring unattractive ones, perhaps allowing proliferation problems to fester out of view in marginal states. Third, suppliers can build consensus on the conditions of supply to avoid being the only party experiencing negotiation conflicts. Fourth, suppliers can constrain others from relaxing the conditions of supply to maintain economic benefits and nonproliferation norms. The first two effects accelerate proliferation while the last two promote nonproliferation. Although the extent of these effects can vary with changes in nonproliferation norms, they can contribute to our understanding of the relationship between nonproliferation and civilian nuclear programs.

South Asia’s Missile Expansion
Dinshaw Mistry

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Over the past decade, contrary to declarations that they are pursuing “minimum” deterrence, India and Pakistan have considerably expanded their missile forces. India has developed eleven types of missiles while Pakistan has fielded nine. These missile forces have a mixed impact on deterrence stability. Both states’ medium-range missiles strengthen their countervalue deterrent capabilities against the other, though India’s China-specific missiles still have limitations. India’s and Pakistan’s short-range missiles and first-generation naval systems raise concerns about nuclear ambiguity, command and control, and escalation across the nuclear threshold, ultimately undermining deterrence stability on the subcontinent.

Beyond Iran: Containing Nuclear Development in the Middle East
Lauren Sukin

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Several states in the Middle East have noted their interest in nuclear energy programs, but current cost and timeline estimates understate the difficulties that these states will face. A state-level analysis of nuclear development capacities in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates suggests that building nuclear infrastructure in the region will, in fact, be a lengthy and expensive endeavor, due to concerns such as export constraints, public opposition, a lack of human resources, and high overhead costs. This has implications for nuclear weapon nonproliferation: first, fears that these developing nuclear energy capabilities may facilitate possible weapon proliferation are premature, and second, there is time to ensure that any burgeoning nuclear infrastructure in the region remains safe and civilian in nature.

The Comprehensive Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: An Emerging International Norm
Moritz Kütt and Jens Steffek

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There have been calls for the abolition of nuclear weapons from the day they were invented. Over the last fifteen years, some indications can be found that such calls have been getting louder, among them Barack Obama’s famous 2009 speech in Prague. In this article, we investigate if support for a comprehensive norm that would prohibit development, possession, and use of nuclear weapons is really growing. To assess the current status of that norm, we use the model of a “norm life cycle,” developed by Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink. We then analyze 6,545 diplomatic statements from the review process of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as well as from the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, covering the years 2000 to 2013. The evidence shows that a comprehensive prohibition can be considered an emerging international norm that finds growing support among states without nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon states alike. Only a core group of states invoke the norm consistently, however. This leads us to conclude that the “tipping point” of the life cycle, at which adherence to a new norm starts to spread rapidly, has yet to be reached.

Strategic Ambiguity: Nuclear Sharing and the Secret Strategy for Drafting Articles I and II of the Nonproliferation Treaty
Daniel Khalessi

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Since the 1950s, the United States has engaged in nuclear sharing with its NATO allies. Today, 150-200 tactical nuclear weapons remain on European soil. However, the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) prohibits the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear weapon states. The potential discrepancy between text and practice raises the question of how the NPT’s negotiators dealt with NATO’s nuclear-sharing arrangements while drafting the treaty that would eventually become the bedrock of the international nonproliferation regime. Using a multitiered analysis of secret negotiations within the White House National Security Council, NATO, and US-Soviet bilateral meetings, this article finds that NATO’s nuclear-sharing arrangements strengthened the NPT in the short term by lowering West German incentives to build the bomb. However, this article also finds that decision makers and negotiators in the Lyndon B. Johnson administration had a coordinated strategy of deliberately inserting ambiguous language into drafts of Articles I and II of the Treaty to protect and preserve NATO’s pre-existing nuclear-sharing arrangements in Europe. This diplomatic approach by the Johnson administration offers lessons for challenges concerning NATO and relations with Russia today.

Re-thinking the Unthinkable: Arms Control in the Twenty-First Century
Nancy Gallagher

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Since the end of the Cold War, arms control proponents tried to make the case for deep nuclear reductions and other forms of security cooperation as necessary for strategic stability. While different versions of strategic stability analysis did sometimes produce innovative proposals, constructive negotiations, and successful ratification campaigns in the past, this analytical framework has become more of a hindrance than a help. Treating arms control as a predominantly technical way to make deterrence more stable by changing force structure characteristics, military operations, relative numbers of weapons on either side, or total number of nuclear weapons gives short shrift to political factors, including the fundamental assumptions about world politics that inform different arms control logics, the quality of political relations among leading states, and the political processes that affect negotiation, ratification, and implementation. This article compares two logics for arms control as a means to enhance strategic stability, one developed by the Cambridge community in the 1960s and one used by the Reagan administration and its successors, with current perspectives on strategic stability in which flexibility and freedom of action are preferable to predictability and arms control. It also contrasts what the Barack Obama administration has tried to achieve through strategic stability dialogues with Russia and China with how they envision security cooperation. It then presents an approach developed during the Cold War by Hedley Bull for thinking about both the technical and the political dimensions of arms control, and suggests that the logic of Cooperative Security (which shares important features with Bull’s approach) is a more appropriate and productive way to think about arms control in the twenty-first century than strategic stability analysis is.

Bedeviled by a Paradox: Nitze, Bundy, and an Incipient Nuclear Norm
Reid B.C. Pauly

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This article explores how two influential American policy makers—Paul Nitze and McGeorge Bundy—wrestled with the idea of a norm against the use of nuclear weapons. Existing scholarship has overlooked how both Bundy and Nitze came to understand the idea of nuclear non-use, especially related to the credibility of threats to use nuclear weapons. Using documentary evidence from their personal papers, this article illuminates the thinking of Bundy and Nitze, finding that both engaged with the idea of a norm of non-use of nuclear weapons in their strategic writing and thought.

All Together Now? Questioning WMDs as a Useful Analytical Unit for Understanding Chemical and Biological Weapons Proliferation
Neil Narang

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The popular use of the term “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD) can be understood to imply a relationship between nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons proliferation insofar as it assumes that the separate weapons technologies can be usefully grouped into a single analytic category. This article explores whether WMD is actually a useful construct. It begins by reviewing the literature on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons proliferation, including a recent study that sought to estimate the relationship between the pursuit and acquisition of these different weapons. It then explores some policy inferences that academics and policy makers may be tempted to draw from these studies, particularly regarding the Barack Obama administration’s pursuit of deep nuclear reductions. It argues that many of these policy inferences are premature at best and misleading at worst. It concludes with a call for additional research into the causes and consequences of chemical and biological weapons proliferation, and a call for scholars to remain cautious in their desire to draw premature policy implications from their studies in order to be “policy relevant.”


Nuclear Subsidies, Proliferation Risks: Clarifying the Link
Henry David Sokolski

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In March 2015, the South Australian state government established a royal commission to investigate the financial, social, technical, diplomatic, and nonproliferation benefits and risks of expanding its nuclear industry, including activities related to uranium mining; enriching, reprocessing, and fabricating nuclear fuels for both domestic use and export; producing nuclear power; and storing radiological waste, including foreign spent reactor fuel. Given its enormous uranium reserves and current mining activities, some Australians have argued that Australia could benefit financially by expanding the mining sector and by adding value to its uranium exports by enriching the material and fabricating it into reactor fuel assemblies. Others have maintained that Australia can realize significant economic benefits by recycling and storing foreign spent fuel and producing carbon-free nuclear power. In the end, the commission recommended that Australia consider opening up a high-level waste repository to take in foreign spent fuel. It did not recommend any other nuclear activities at this time. The following viewpoint is based on testimony I delivered to the commission on the nuclear weapon proliferation implications of the proposed activities. If Australia wants to avoid the temptation of selling nuclear goods to states that might use these goods to make bombs, it should only consider new nuclear activities that can be entirely financed by the private sector and turn a profit without having to resort to foreign sales. This policy would also enable Australia to set an important, new international nonproliferation standard.

Nuclear Disarmament and Stability in the Logic of Habit
Jarrod Hayes

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In 2008, the announcement of the Global Zero campaign—an international effort to eliminate nuclear weapons—coincided with the election of Barack Obama. The new president, avowedly pro-disarmament, made getting to zero nuclear weapons a centerpiece of his foreign policy. This article takes on the question of what impact global disarmament might have on international strategic stability. In a break with much of the literature and analysis on nuclear policy, it explicitly focuses on how publics understand the significance of nuclear weapons. In so doing, the article draws on recent international relations scholarship on the role of habit to argue that eliminating nuclear weapons can generate instability by creating widespread perceptions of insecurity and anxiety. If disarmament campaigners wish to achieve their goal without generating instability, they will need to work over the long-term to break habituated beliefs about nuclear weapons.


Reading the Riot Act: Toward a More Comprehensive Ban on Chemical Weapons
Paul Walker

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The recent use of chemicals in warfare in Syria and Iraq illustrates that, despite the important work of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the world has not yet been totally successful in stopping the use of indiscriminate toxic agents in conflicts, either by states or non-state actors. Michael Crowley’s excellent and timely new book, Chemical Control, analyzes the use of “riot control agents” (RCAs) and “incapacitating chemical agents” (ICAs), including launch and dispersal systems, by police, paramilitary, and military forces over the last decades and raises the challenging question about where the red line might be drawn between banned and permitted uses of chemicals. He discusses this problem not only in the context of the CWC, which allows use of RCAs for civilian riot control, but also in the context of international law, human rights, and criminal justice, including the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and other disarmament and abolition regimes. He proposes a “holistic, three-stage approach” to addressing this issue “for effective regulation or prohibition of the weapon or weapon-related technology of concern.” As we approach the global abolition of a whole class of weapons of mass destruction in the next decade or even sooner, Chemical Control is helpful in better understanding and solving the dilemma of what’s actually banned or permitted under international law, and precluding states undermining the chemical weapons ban.

Statements of fact and opinion expressed in The Nonproliferation Review are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply the endorsement of the editors, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, or the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

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