The adjective ‘timely’ is perhaps overused, but in the case of Nicholas Miller’s Stopping the Bomb—the subject of this roundtable review by four excellent scholars of nuclear politics—it is well-earned. Miller’s book was published in the spring of 2018, just as President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, and months before Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in Singapore. Trump vowed to persuade North Korea to denuclearize, even as most nuclear experts, Miller included, argued that that particular train had already left the station. Miller’s book helps provide theoretical and historical context for understanding not only the causes but also the effectiveness of U.S. nonproliferation policy.
Tag: nuclear nonproliferation
Julia Macdonald begins her review for this forum by pointing out that nuclear security studies has in the past decade undergone a “renaissance” in both political science studies and international history. Macdonald proceeds to note some of the most influential earlier studies by leading scholars such as Robert Jervis and Kenneth Waltz before discussing the newer studies which include the articles under review. Frank Gavin is one of the authors of an article under review as well as the author of Nuclear Statecraft; History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age, which has a broader focus than that of the forum but addresses the subject of proliferation and its role in U.S. grand strategy during the Cold War and into the Obama administration. As Macdonald emphasizes, the new studies significantly challenge some of the leading earlier works by demonstrating the importance of non-proliferation as a central objective in U.S. Cold-War strategy and the degree to which mutually assured destruction (MAD) did not necessarily contribute to “caution and stability among states, but instead can actually facilitate a range of different behaviors from compromise to aggression.”
Sixty years ago, on 23 October 1956, an international conference at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York adopted the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The document is almost as long as the UN Charter and remains the legal foundation of ‘the Agency,’ as the world nuclear organization is widely called. This H-Diplo/ISSF policy roundtable uses the anniversary as an opportunity to discuss the IAEA’s mandate and role in history and current affairs. Does the IAEA Statute, which was written in a very different context, stand up to scrutiny today? What does the answer suggest about the IAEA and institutions of global nuclear governance more generally? How can the IAEA be strengthened?
When British voters chose to leave the European Union in a 23 June 2016 referendum, they unleashed an intense and ongoing national debate over the consequences. Not surprisingly, the debate has largely surrounded the economic, political, and social consequences of “Brexit.” Those in favour of leaving emphasized the benefits of independence from what they saw as a sclerotic and undemocratic EU. Those opposed warned about the economic consequences of withdrawing from a common market, and feared that the vote was evidence of creeping nativism in British society.
James Stocker offers a deep historical analysis of U.S. foreign policy towards regional nuclear weapons free zones (NWFZs) during the tenure of three American presidents — Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson— and maps its evolution over eleven years of pre-détente Cold War. He examines how the Eisenhower administration rejected the idea of NWFZs owing to its discomfort with a possible European zone but that a gradual shift occurred in favor of their limited acceptance during President Kennedy’s time in office, and final implementation of such acceptance during the Johnson administration. Not surprisingly, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the 1964 Chinese nuclear test made significant contributions to the altered U.S. policy position post-Eisenhower. According to Stocker, while the United States began to perceive NWFZs as nonproliferation tools through which it could tackle the spread of nuclear weapons in a very precarious world, such zones also precluded U.S. rights to station, deploy, and transport nuclear weapons in the regions, thus obstructing Washington’s security interests. Based on U.S. archival sources from Presidential libraries, the National Archives and Record Administration, and published documentation in Foreign Relations of the United States, the article is a systematic study of U.S. policy towards NWFZ under three different administrations.
Last year, Scott Sagan declared – on H-Diplo – that we are in the midst of a renaissance in nuclear studies, driven by first-rate work by younger scholars. Two qualities in particular mark this scholarship. First, many of these young scholars combine both methodological innovation and rigor while engaging new archival sources. Second, these scholars are unafraid to challenge long-held conventional wisdoms about the nuclear age. The three commentators to this forum – a roundtable on Andreas Wenger and Roland Popp (eds.), “Special Issue: The Origins of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime,” in The International History Review — are exemplars of these trends. Eliza Gheorghe has mined new sources to explore the previously unknown and fascinating history of Romania’s nuclear program, in the process generating important insights into nuclear dynamics between superpowers and smaller states. Nicholas Miller has identified the key moments in United States nuclear nonproliferation policy, helping us understand the motivations and tools driving these efforts. Jane Vayman has built upon recent historical research to model the causal dynamics behind the surprising superpower collusion to stem the spread of nuclear weapons. As their previous work and their reviews here reveal, all three are equally conversant in the most recent historical scholarship and the newest trends in international relations theory involving nuclear dynamics.