Nonproliferation Review July 2011

Volume 18 • Number 2


View this issue’s note from the Editor


View this issue’s contributor bios


Christopher Paine and Thomas Cochran • Mario E. Carranza


Opting Out of the Iron Triangle: The US Chemical Industry and US Chemical Weapons Policy
Karen Winzoski

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Between the 1960s and the 1990s, the US chemical industry went from lobbying against the Geneva Protocol and promoting increased funding for chemical warfare to refusing to produce binary chemical weapons and assisting with the negotiations of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)—even though the treaty included provisions that could be costly to industry. What happened in those thirty years to make the US chemical industry reverse its position on chemical weapons? This article argues these changes were largely caused by the chemical industry’s desire to reform the negative public image it had acquired due to its involvement in the Agent Orange scandal and other high-profile incidents during the 1970s and 1980s. The chemical industry’s assistance with CWC negotiations may be explained after an examination of the US public policy literature, which argues that industry will support apparently costly regulations if doing so helps it repair a damaged public image and ensures greater profits in the long run.

Biodefense and Transparency: The Dual-Use Dilemma
Kirk C. Bansak

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This article assesses, via analysis of two case studies, the relationship between the dual-use nature of biological research and negative perceptions of the US biodefense program. The primary case study is the controversy over the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories, an as-yet- unopened maximum-containment biodefense facility in Boston that some locals suspect will be used for illegal offensive biological weapons (BW) work. Lessons from this controversy are considered in the international context via a second case study: the Cold War-era Soviet bioweapons program, which was continued in part due to the Soviet belief that the US biodefense program was really a cover for offensive BW work. The two case studies demonstrate that misperceptions of US biodefense can have serious consequences that may threaten US national security. Underlying such misperceptions is the unavoidable dilemma of dual-use—legitimate peaceful research and technologies can overlap with offensive military activities. Politics play a critical role in determining outsiders’ interpretations of the intent of US biodefense activities, transforming the dual-use dilemma from a descriptive concept into a problem in which misperceptions can be highly damaging. Taking into account the important role of political relations, the article argues that negative perceptions of the US biodefense program should not be simply accepted as a fait accompli, intrinsic to the dual-use nature of the life sciences, but rather that they can and should be addressed. The article identifies greater transparency measures as crucial to doing this.

Achieving the Vision of the NPT: Can We Get There Step By Step?
Jacqueline C. Reich

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This article assesses the prospects for a strategy of incrementalism to lead to achievement of the core bargain of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons: non-nuclear weapon states’ nuclear nonproliferation in exchange for nuclear weapon states’ nuclear disarmament to the point of “global zero.” Game theory, prospect theory, and liberal international theory are used to evaluate the potential of a strategy of incrementalism. While separately each has insights to offer, it is when all three theoretical approaches are used in tandem that meaningful explanatory gains emerge. The article concludes that incrementalism probably cannot lead to complete nonproliferation and global nuclear zero. Instead, signal events (as described by prospect theory) are needed to “punctuate” incremental processes in negotiations (best explained by liberal international theory) in order to move past hindrances such as international structural constraints (exemplified by game theory) and the conservative risk-taking propensities of state elites (described by prospect theory).

Irrational Exuberance? The 2010 NPT Review Conference, Nuclear Assistance, and Norm Change
Jeffrey S. Lantis

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The 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) produced a Final Document calling for an extension of the principles of the nonproliferation norm as well as steps toward complete disarmament. This article looks beyond the rhetoric, however, to examine recent decisions by great powers to expand nuclear trade with non-NPT countries and the implications of these decisions on the traditional nonproliferation norm of restraint. This article seeks to contribute to constructivist theory by supplementing existing accounts of norm creation and establishment with a new model of norm change. The article develops a case study of the 2008 US-India nuclear deal to highlight the role of elite agency in key stages of norm change, including redefinition and constructive substitution through contestation. It concludes that the traditional nonproliferation norm may be evolving in new directions that are not well captured by existing theoretical frames.


Ballistic Trajectory: The Evolution of North Korea’s Ballistic-Missile Market
Joshua Pollack

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North Korea has been one of the world’s most active suppliers of ballistic missile systems since the mid-1980s, but the nature of its missile export business has changed significantly during this period. Unclassified, publicly available data show that the great majority of known deliveries of complete missile systems from North Korea occurred before 1994. The subsequent fall-off took place a decade too early to be explained by the Proliferation Security Initiative of 2003. It can be explained by a combination of factors that have reduced demand. First, after selling production equipment for ballistic missiles to many states, especially in the Middle East, North Korea by the late 1990s had become primarily a supplier of missile parts and materials, not complete systems. Second, after Operation Desert Storm, some missile-buying states shifted their attention away from ballistic missiles in favor of manned aircraft, cruise missiles, and missile defense systems supplied by Western powers. Third, some states experienced pressure from the United States to curtail their dealings with North Korea. During the last decade, having shed most of its previous customer base, North Korea has entered a phase of collaborative missile development with a smaller number of state partners, particularly Iran and Syria. Its known sales of complete missile systems are relatively small and infrequent. North Korea’s time as missile supplier to the Middle East at large has ended, but there is a risk that regional states will turn to North Korea as a supplier of nuclear technology in the future.


International Security on the Road to Nuclear Zero
Nancy W. Gallagher

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The disappointingly slow pace of progress on efforts to prevent proliferation, reduce nuclear weapons, and eliminate nuclear risks has many causes. The factor that might be easiest for individuals in the arms control and nonproliferation community to change stems from their own ambivalence about major questions that must be addressed on the road to reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world to zero. This essay explores how ambivalence about four key issues—strategic stability, alliance relations, institution-building, and nuclear energy—often leads community members to take positions that play well at home and within their like-minded group but raise unintended impediments to achieving their own long-term goals. The author suggests alternative ways to handle these questions to improve the prospects for domestic and international agreement on practical measures that would eliminate, not perpetuate, nuclear risks.

Extraordinary Visits: Lessons Learned from Engaging with North Korea
Siegfried S. Hecker

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North Korea has the bomb but not much of a nuclear arsenal. For fifty years, it pursued the plutonium path to the bomb in parallel with its pursuit of nuclear electricity. My visits to North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex provided a window to its plutonium capabilities. After having made six visits to North Korea, Pyongyang surprised me during my seventh visit last November by showing me a small, modern uranium enrichment plant, which I was told was needed for its new indigenous light water reactor program. However, the same capabilities can be used to produce highly enriched uranium bomb fuel. Following a pattern of having made poor risk-management decisions during much of the past twenty years of diplomacy dealing with the North Korean nuclear threat, Washington remains in a standoff with Pyongyang.


Forecasting Nuclear Proliferation in the 21st Century: The Role of Theory and A Comparative Perspective, edited by William C. Potter with Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova
Reviewed by Michael Krepon

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Forecasting Nuclear Proliferation in the 21st Century, a two-volume set edited by William C. Potter with Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, provides analyses of great value that will be useful to students and academics, as well as to policy-making practitioners. The individual essays are insightful, and they raise fundamental questions about whether theory can actually offer predictive value to practitioners. Although theory may be of minimal predictive help, it can “provide a guide as to what observers should look for,” as the two editors note in the second volume. The first volume,The Role of Theory, brings together academics who are committed to the quest for policy-relevant theories of proliferation, and the second volume,A Comparative Perspective, presents case studies of individual countries. The two volumes add to a rich qualitative literature on proliferation, while applying rigorous quantitative analysis to proliferation cases.


Undergraduate Nonproliferation Education in the United States: A Nonproliferation Review Survey of Teaching at Leading US Colleges and Universities
Richard Sabatini, Deborah Berman, Lisa Sanders Luscombe and Leonard S. Spector


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
Copyright © 2011 by Monterey Institute of International Studies