Modeling State Decisions to Pursue Nuclear Weapons
Lee, So Jin
Cha, Victor D
This paper addresses the puzzle of why states proliferate nuclear weapons, despite a widespread call for global nuclear disarmament and the high costs of non-compliance behavior that follow. Most existing research on the determinants of nuclear proliferation has focused solely on either the demand-side or the supply-side of the equation. I, however, approach the puzzle by simultaneously using both the supply and demand aspect of nuclear proliferation, using existing concepts. I hypothesize that states pursue nuclear weapons when they perceive high levels of security threats, and if the following two conditions are met: 1) states do not have a credible, unconditional alliance with a nuclear superpower, and 2) states have received significant nuclear assistance. Based on my hypothesis, I construct an analytical framework and test my set of hypotheses, using the variations in North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons over-time as a case study. By analyzing North Korea's case, I found that all three variables - level of perceived threat, credible and unconditional alliance with a nuclear superpower, and whether the state has received significant nuclear assistance - are important when studying why states proliferate nuclear weapons. My findings imply three policy options that could successfully prevent other "latent" states from becoming full-fledged nuclear states.
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