Quote of the Week: Why do states build (or not) nuclear weapons?

In his article,”Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons?: Three Models in Search of a Bomb,” Scott D. Sagan describes:

“The central purpose of this article is to challenge this conventional wisdom about nuclear proliferation. I argue that the consensus view, focusing on national security considerations as the cause of proliferation, is dangerously inadequate….”

He offers three alternative theoretical frameworks, or models:

  1. the security model (to increase national security against foreign threats)
  2. the domestic politics model (to serve as political tools to advance domestic and bureaucratic interests), and
  3. the norms model (where weapons acquisition or restrain in development provide a symbol of a state’s modernity and identity)

In his conclusion, he notes:

“I have no quarrel with the argument that the largest number of past and even current active proliferant cases are best explained by the security model. But the evidence presented above strongly suggests that multicausality, rather than measurement error, lies at the heart of the nuclear proliferation problem. Nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear restraint have occurred in the past, and can occur in the future, for more than one reason: different historical cases are best explained by different causal models.”

What’s your take?


Image: Jeff T. Green-Getty Images News, Getty

Posted in , Nonproliferation, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Quotes, Theory

Julia Thompson

Julia Thompson

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