Nonproliferation Review June 2014

Volume 21 • Number 2


View this issue’s contributor bios


Thomas Graham, Jr. • Marie Isabelle Chevrier • Jenifer Mackby • Jason Enia and Jeffrey Fields • Miles Pomper


French Nuclear Diplomacy: Grand Failure?
Jaclyn Tandler

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“French nuclear diplomacy” is the French government’s use of civilian nuclear cooperation agreements (NCAs) to advance specific commercial and strategic interests. During the heart of the so-called nuclear renaissance, the Élysée Palace aggressively peddled France’s nuclear expertise and technology abroad, signing over a dozen new NCAs in an effort to bring in business for the French industry, forge diplomatic relationships, and promote global nonproliferation norms. Several years later, however, the outcomes of France’s aggressive global nuclear power push appear nominal at best. This article explores the mixed results of this nuclear campaign, and through three case studies, illustrates how many of France’s commercial and political disappointments stem from unrealistic expectations and the disorganization of the French nuclear complex.

Kazakhstan’s Nuclear Decision Making, 1991-92
Anuar Ayazbekov

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This article examines Kazakhstani nuclear decision making in December 1991–May 1992. The study is based on unique archival data and reveals how Kazakhstan’s policy makers solved a nuclear dilemma that the nation faced in the first years of independence. The article reconstructs the internal policy-making process behind the decision made by President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his circle of advisors to accept non-nuclear status. The author argues that Almaty elaborated a deliberately ambivalent strategy toward the republic’s nuclear status with the aim of maximizing the state’s strategic interests. The article reviews external pressures affecting Nazarbayev’s course of action and discusses policy options articulated during this period.

A Proliferation of Royal Air Forces: Bombers and Bombs Down Under, 1954-63
Richard Moore

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Australia’s interest in nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 60s is usually explained in terms of high politics and grand strategy. This proliferation case study explores, in greater detail than hitherto, the important part played by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in pressing for a nuclear capability. It seeks to understand the reasons behind the RAAF’s lobbying, in particular its previous experience with air power, its visceral desire for advanced manned bomber aircraft, and its strong institutional link to the British Royal Air Force. The decision in 1963 to acquire the supersonic US F-111 strike aircraft, instead of rivals including the British TSR.2, is also considered. Once the RAAF’s bomber ambitions were satisfied, interest in nuclear weapons was greatly reduced. Finally, some comments are included on the nuclear interests of other air forces in the British Commonwealth.

The Moral Dimension of “Global Zero”: The Evolution of the Catholic Church’s Nuclear Ethics in a Changing World
Paolo Foradori

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Regrettably, moral arguments are largely absent from the current debate on nuclear disarmament. Indeed, complementing politico-strategic thinking with ethical categories could significantly strengthen the abolitionist call. To fill the gap, this article analyzes the evolution of the nuclear ethics of the Roman Catholic Church and especially its position on nuclear deterrence. If this strategy was granted interim and strictly conditioned moral acceptance during the Cold War period, nuclear deterrence is today increasingly considered ineffective, an obstacle to genuine disarmament and hence morally unjustifiable. In the new security context, the conditions for the Catholic Church’s “interim nuclear ethics” have altered, and nuclear disarmament has become a feasible option and a strategy alternative to deterrence.

The Odyssey of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Clinton, Obama, and the Politics of Treaty Ratification
Christopher M. Jones and Kevin P. Marsh

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This study examines the failures of the William J. Clinton and Barack Obama administrations to secure ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). It applies an integrated analytical framework for assessing treaty ratification that builds upon previous research in order to understand why the Clinton administration failed to achieve CTBT ratification in 1999 and why the Obama administration has so far failed to advance the treaty in the Senate. The study concludes that CTBT ratification, despite Obama administration pledges of support, remains highly unlikely. Finally, the study analyzes the common domestic political factors present in both cases and suggests areas for further research.

‘Disarmament Market’ Effects of Information Disclosures: Hypothesizing About the Role of Economic Theory in Analyzing the Transparency of Nuclear Disarmament
Alexander Kolbin

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In yet another wave of discussion on nuclear disarmament among political scientists and practitioners, one of the topical issues concerns the problem of transparency, its mechanisms, costs, and benefits. Numerous—though often abstract—calls for greater transparency of nuclear arsenals and postures when promoting the idea of nuclear disarmament, however, do not give a clear rationale for states possessing nuclear weapons to pursue greater transparency. Meanwhile, many other research fields—such as economics and psychology—attempt to address problems related to the lack of exact information on the counterpart’s activities and intentions. Economics offers one probable analog for the transparency problem: the issue of information asymmetry and its consequences. This article is an attempt to apply the classical model of a market with information asymmetry to the analysis of the transparency problem within the nuclear disarmament process. It is hoped that such an approach can help pave the way for closer cooperation between economic and political scientists in the nuclear disarmament field.


Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, by Eric Schlosser
Bruce G. Blair

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Drawing upon rare documents and extensive interviewing, Eric Schlosser presents a compelling history of the risks of the accidental, unauthorized, and inadvertent use of US nuclear weapons from the dawn of the nuclear age to the present. Written in a style so accessible that the drama of events, particularly a nuclear missile explosion in Arkansas in the 1980s, rivets the reader from beginning to end, the author exposes the true extent of America’s brush with nuclear disaster. He debunks the fiction of stable mutual deterrence; the nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union was far more unstable than generally understood at the time due to vulnerabilities in command and control (especially “decapitation” threats), predelegation of nuclear launch authority to military commanders, accident-prone launch on warning postures, and inadequate safety and safeguards. New threats such as cyber warfare combined with proliferation suggest that the danger of nuclear weapons use is growing despite the Cold War’s end. Nuclear stability and control were further undermined by excessive secrecy and unaccountable nuclear planners and targeteers. The book is masterpiece on every level.


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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