Nonproliferation Review • 23.5/6

Volume 23 • Numbers 5/6


Joshua H. Pollack & Rhianna Tyson Kreger





A tribute to Dr. Lawrence Scheinman


View this issue’s contributor bios


Michal Smetana, Jan Ludvik, Henry Sokolski & Michael Krepon


Brazil and the nonproliferation regime: a historical perspective
Sergio de Queiroz Duarte

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This article addresses the historical relations between Brazil and the international nonproliferation regime. It also discusses the current position of the Brazilian government regarding the Additional Protocol and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, as well as some aspects of the Brazilian nuclear program.

Brazilian nuclear policy during the Workers’ Party years
Mônica Herz, Layla Dawood & Victor Coutinho Lage

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Focusing on the tenure of the Workers’ Party (2003–16), we appraise the tensions between the Brazilian government and international nuclear governance mechanisms after the end of the Cold War. We examine three main dimensions of Brazilian nuclear policy: the search for autonomy and the affirmation of sovereignty, the economic-development rationale, and the security aspect. We present an interpretation of Brazilian nuclear policy within its broader cultural setting and the framing of foreign policy and international relations as defined by the ruling elite.

The ABACC experience: continuity and credibility in the nuclear programs of Brazil and Argentina
Mariana Oliveira do Nascimento Plum & Carlos Augusto Rollemberg de Resende

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The Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC) is a unique bilateral nonproliferation regime created by Brazil and Argentina after a long process of negotiations and confidence building. The creation of the agency in July 1991 marked a paradigmatic shift in the Brazilian-Argentine relationship, converting their long rivalry into a profound strategic partnership. This article presents a historical overview of the creation of ABACC and discusses how it paved the way for the integration of Brazil and Argentina into the nonproliferation regime. The article also shows how ABACC tackled nonproliferation challenges in the twenty-first century, helping Brazil and Argentina continue their nuclear programs with fewer risks to the autonomy and development goals traditionally defended in their foreign policies.

External perceptions of Brazil’s nuclear policy: views from Argentina and the United States
Togzhan Kassenova

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Brazil, a developing country with an advanced nuclear program, presents an interesting case for observers of nuclear politics. Brazil is one of a handful of countries that possess uranium-enrichment technology, one of three countries in Latin America that produce nuclear power, and the only country without nuclear weapons to pursue an ambitious nuclear-powered submarine program. Among external views on Brazil’s nuclear politics, the perceptions of Argentina and the United States matter most. With Argentina, Brazil shares responsibility for regional security. The two countries’ commitment to a bilateral nuclear safeguards arrangement contributes to a peaceful environment in the region. The United States will continue to set the tone in global nuclear matters and thus its views of Brazil’s role in the nuclear field will continue to matter to Brasília, even as Brazil’s political and economic crises have thrown the country’s nuclear future into uncertain territory.

The Brazilian Navy’s nuclear-powered submarine program
Antônio Ruy de Almeida Silva & José Augusto Abreu de Moura

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This article discusses the main aspects of the Brazilian Navy’s nuclear-powered submarine program. It first discusses the Brazilian perception that the restrictions imposed by the world powers related to so-called sensitive technologies are a tool to maintain the status quo and hamper the technological progress of developing countries. The article then focuses on the political, economic, technological, and strategic reasons behind the creation and maintenance of the autonomous nuclear-propulsion submarine program. Next, the article examines strategic aspects of the program and their institutionalization in high-level defense documents, informing Brazil’s opposition to adopting additional nonproliferation measures. Finally, it discusses Brazilian policy toward the South Atlantic Ocean and the role of the nuclear-powered submarine. The article seeks to shed light on the main reasons that led Brazil to build and maintain such submarines and maps the program’s phases of development.

The evolution of Brazil’s nuclear intentions
Matias Spektor

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Existing literature usually portrays Brazil as a country that set out to build nuclear weapons but ended up “rolling back” its original plans while keeping a nuclear “hedge” for an uncertain future, evidenced by Brazil’s investment in uranium enrichment and its commitment to building a nuclear-powered submarine. This article draws on the historical record to offer a more nuanced view of Brazil’s nuclear intentions as they evolved. It also focuses on the role of external pressure—mostly from Argentina and the United States—in shaping those motivations.


Nuclear identities and Scottish independence
Nick Ritchie

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This article argues that the study of national identity is central to understanding and explaining national and transnational nuclear politics. It argues that the meanings assigned to nuclear weapons are not fixed or self-evident, but are instead changeable and contingent on social and historical context. The article develops this argument by studying how the Scottish National Party has framed UK nuclear weapons in ways very different from those of the major UK political parties. It argues that the SNP has done this by developing and promoting a specific national identity for an independent Scotland in which nuclear weapons have no place. This identity is juxtaposed against that of a “Westminster other” for whom nuclear weapons remain highly valued. The article provides an original constructivist case study of contemporary Scottish-British nuclear politics and the social construction of nuclear identities in the context of the 2014 Scottish-independence referendum and the 2015 general election.

IAEA “significant quantity” values: time for a closer look?
Braden Goddard, Alexander Solodov & Vitaly Fedchenko

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The International Atomic Energy Agency uses a concept of “significant quantity” to establish accounting limits and to determine how much nuclear material can be unaccounted for before the construction of a nuclear device becomes possible. Under the current SQ values, some materials could potentially be under-regulated, while others have disproportionately tight accounting practices, thus interfering with optimal safeguards efficacy. This article compares the SQ values of various materials and reviews the categories adopted by a variety of national regulators to show similarities and differences of approaches. The article concludes by offering possible solutions to increase safeguards efficacy and reduce costs, while acknowledging potential drawbacks. All findings and conclusions are based on open-source publications and publicly available information.


“Pre-emption is victory”: aggravated nuclear instability of the information age
Greg Austin & Pavel Sharikov

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Leading US military figures have discussed the use of pre-emptive cyberattack to disable or disrupt enemy nuclear missiles. While Russia does not appear to have such a highly developed concept, it now sees US plans to disrupt the command and control of its nuclear weapons as the main threat it faces at the strategic level of warfare. Cyberweapons and strategies have brought us to a situation of aggravated nuclear instability that needs to be more explicitly and openly addressed in the diplomacy of leading powers, both in private and in public. This article draws attention to a convergence between Russian interest in pre-emptive attack and reasonable views of Western strategists and scholars that the character of cyberspace favors offense and may encourage pre-emptive action. Since bilateral arms-control regimes for cyberspace are unlikely given the difficulty of verification and escalating US-Russian tension, states should commit to restraint regarding cyberattacks on nuclear military assets.


Terrorism and WMDs: a review of two books
Joshua Sinai


People preventing catastrophe
Andy Weber & Christine Parthemore

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.

The Nonproliferation Review ISSN 1073-6700
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