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Debating Enormity. Nuclear Proliferation in the 21 st Century dDTBnsqxZ3k. Part 1: Debating International Relations. What are we talking about?. The “fiction” of the nation-state

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debating enormity

Debating Enormity

Nuclear Proliferation in the 21st Century

what are we talking about
What are we talking about?
  • The “fiction” of the nation-state
  • Series of “paradigms” which allow us to interpret the meaning of events- the lens
  • Treaty of Westphalia 1648 2 principles:
    • Anarchy-no order, the state of nature
    • Sovereignty- all decisions are made within

The Nation-State. Power is legitimate.


Power is absolute within the nation-state

  • Develop international law to regulate interactions between nations
  • States can declare war and make treaties
  • Norms of BOUNDARIES are established
  • Power rests with the sovereign state NOT the sovereign
  • Monopoly on the legitimate use of power
security dilemma
Security Dilemma
  • Why do wars break out?
  • Self-interest
  • Competition
  • Offense/defense misperception…arms races, first strike as strategy
  • Nation vs. state
traditional rules just war tradition
Traditional Rules: Just War Tradition
  • Proper authority to use force only resides with the state, not non-state actor
  • Michael Walzer, JUST AND UNJUST WARS
  • Jus ad bellum: rules that govern the justice of war
    • Having just cause
    • Being declared by a proper authority
    • Possessing right intention
    • Having a reasonable chance of success
    • The end being proportional to the means used

Jus in bello: rules that govern just and fair conduct in war

    • Discrimination- who are legitimate targets in war? Don’t attack indiscriminately-not non-combatants. How can you tell the difference? How affect modern targeting?
    • Proportionality- how much force is morally appropriate?
    • Does WMD make the doctrine obsolete?
  • Hans Morgenthau, POLITICS AMONG NATIONS: The Struggle for Power & Peace, 1978.
  • Hobbes. Machiavelli. George Kennan.
  • A view of politics that stresses the competitive and contractual side.
  • Modern statesman Henry Kissinger. Leftist realists include Noam Chomsky and Mark Laffey.
realist assumptions
Realist Assumptions
  • 1. the international system is anarchic. No actor above states can enforce norms.
  • 2. states are the most important actors.
  • 3. all states within the system are unitary, rational actors. Aim is maximizing self interest striving to attain as many resources as possible. Want power and national interest.
  • 4. primary concern of all states is survival.
  • State is still the key actor but recognize growing role of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Multinational Organizations and Multinational Corporations.
  • Kenneth Waltz, THEORY OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, 1978…it is the international system which is important. States behave in similar ways in spite of form of government or diverse political ideology.

Growing interdependence model-Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye.

  • SOFT-POWER: ability to accomplish goals by making them appear attractive, culture, values, assistance.
  • HARD POWER: military, economic means to accomplish goals through coercive diplomacy, sanctions, force.

HEGEMONY- amount of power a state has =s influence. Balance of power is how hegemony is distributed. Unipolar, bipolar, multipolar.

  • Charles Kindleberger, hegemonic stability theory, stability of the system relies on a leader to develop and enforce rules of the system
liberalism internationalism
  • The view of international politics which emphasizes cooperation. Morality has a role to play.
  • Immanuel Kant, PERPETUAL PEACE, 1795. Go to war in self-defense.
  • Democratic Peace Theory-Michael Doyle. Democracies do not go to war against each other. Why? Leaders are more responsible to people, more likely to establish diplomatic institutions to resolve tensions, less likely to view neighbors as hostile, greater wealth to protect.

Commercial Peace Theory-free trade pacifies international relations, globalization scholars, cosmopolitanism as cultural linkage. Status quo states want to keep, revisionist states want change.

  • 1. Humans are rational and we can consider basic morality. UN Declaration.
  • 2. Central feature is not anarchy, but harmony. Cooperation is key element. Mutual interest not Self.
  • 3. Government is necessary, but also NG role. Pluralism.
  • 4. Individual liberty is respected, war disrupts natural state
critical theorists
Critical Theorists
  • Structuralists: Marxists…All politics is about economics, elites prosper at expense of masses, eventually system will collapse
  • Post modernists: reject meta-narratives,must deconstruct assumptions, threat construction position- ex. Spanos, all truth is culturally constructed, normalize some things and marginalize others
future of international relations
Future of International Relations?
  • Whither the nation-state? Anachronism? Are we so integrated war is suicidal?
  • Global governance. Richard Falk, Samuel Kim, Saul Mendlovitz, World Orders Model Project.
  • Identity blues- Fukuyama THE END OF HISTORY, 1992. End of state violence, liberal democracy won, but replaced by ethnic violence, war within states. Terrorism has replaced war.
  • What about WMDs? Walzer says makes just war concept defunct. Nuclear, chemical, biological, radiological weapons.
part 2 nuclear relations basic vocabulary
Part 2: Nuclear Relations Basic Vocabulary
  • HORIZONTAL proliferation refers to nation-states that do not have, but are acquiring nuclear weapons or developing the capability and materials for producing them.
  • VERTICAL proliferation refers to nation-states that do possess nuclear weapons and are increasing their stockpiles of these weapons, improving the technical sophistication or reliability of their weapons, or developing new weapons.
  • Development of delivery mechanisms are also an emerging issue.
why do nations proliferate
Why do nations proliferate?
  • Believe more “secure” with weapons.
  • Prestige comes with being a member of the “nuclear club”.
  • Atmosphere of acquisition when neighbors acquire.
  • Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
good or bad
Good or Bad?
  • Research: what are you looking for?
  • Theodore B. Taylor
  • Kenneth N. Waltz
acquisition by individuals or nonstate entities
Acquisition by Individuals or Nonstate Entities
  • Terrorism-actions intended to produce terror by nonstate entities by the potential acquisition of nuclear weapons.
  • State sponsored terrorism, obtain fissile material through loss, theft, or sale on blackmarket
  • “dirty bombs” seeded explosive or incendiary bombs that are technically radiological rather than nuclear weapons.
controlling proliferation
Controlling Proliferation
  • Manhattan Project scientists wanted use on uninhabited island rather than civilian population centers as demonstration, form Federation of American Scientists and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
  • International Agreements reflected concern.
  • Series of international and regional agreements.
limited nuclear test ban treaty
Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
  • LTBT 1963 after reported cancer dangers
  • Prohibits nuclear test explosions in the atmosphere, in space, or undersea.
  • Tests since have been conducted underground or by simulation.
treaty on the non proliferation of nuclear weapons
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
  • 1968 NPT: most widely accepted arms control agreement.
  • 5 original nuclear-weapon states (US, Soviets, UK, France, China) can’t transfer nuclear weapons, other nuclear explosive devices, or their technology to any non-nuclear states.
  • Non-nuclear states who are parties undertake avoidance of acquisition or production of weapons or devices, in return for acquisition of nuclear technologies for peaceful activities (like energy). Must accept safeguards.
state of the world
State of the World
how to respond to prolif the military option
How to respondto prolif? The military option
  • More than a dozen occasions nonnuclear weapons states have been targeted with military force since 1941.
  • 1942 British commandos attacked a German occupied site in Norway
  • Iran-Iraq War and aftermath
  • 1991 Persian Gulf War US bombed numerous Iraqi nuclear facilities
  • Israeli bombings v Iraq and Syria
  • Planned by Egypt, India/Pakistan, Soviets v. South Africa, US v. China, international efforts to control North Korea and Iran

Military option is more likely when a state is highly threatened by the target state’s potential acquisition of nuclear weapons

    • Israel threatened by Iraq not Algeria
    • US doesn’t attack UK in 1950
  • Two main factors shape this threat perception: violent interstate conflict and the proliferator’s regime type
    • Highly authoritarian proliferators are more likely to be attacked.
    • ALL strikes to date have been against non-democratic states
    • Fear of the non-transparent government

Two additional factors- First…

  • More likely to consider raids based on the likelihood of success. Weaker states will require allies, ex. African states don’t act, Soviets might v. South Africa.
  • The number of nuclear facilities the target possesses. Iraq and Syria only had single facilities that had not yet produced weapons. Iran has multiple facilities, not a single nuclear chokepoint.


  • The costs can deter a military option. Could the strike trigger a large scale war or produce other undesireable outcomes? Iran counter with attack on the Strait of Hormuz threatened core US politico-strategic interests.

Normative costs. International norm against use of force, Article 56 of Protocol I Additional to Geneva Conventions (1977) specifically prohibits targeting nuclear plants.

    • “As a military matter, the bombing mission would be straightforward. The Air Force could destroy the target, no sweat. But bombing a sovereign country with no warning or announced justification would create severe blowback.” George Bush memoir re Syrian nuclear development.
threat is growing
Threat is growing…
  • In spite of March 2011 accident at Fukushima nuclear power plant, there is now what is being called a “nuclear renaissance”
  • Do safeguards keep us safe? Nuclear facilities are dual-use in nature, can serve military and civilian purposes. Evidence shows that on average, states that receive foreign assistance in developing peaceful programs are statistically more likely than states without assistance to pursue and acquire nuclear weapons.
  • Hard to tell intent in developing. Hard to convince international community and traditional enmities influential. North Korea. India/Pakistan. Middle Eastern nations.
  • CBWs are weapons whose intended means for causing harm is either the toxicity of chemicals or the infectivity of disease causing micro-organisms including viruses, prions, and other such biological agents that can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans and animals.
  • Immediate physical effects, long-term general effects, potential genocidal implications, and psychological effects.

First modern weapon used on April 22 and 23, 1915. Cylinders of liquefied chlorine gas opened into the wind at Ypres in WW I.

  • Iraqi mustard and nerve gas in Kurdish town Halabja, March 16-18, 1988.
  • Societal constraints on use has led to an accretion of norms, rules, and procedures in national and international law constituting a “governance regime”.
governance regime
Governance Regime
  • 1925 Geneva Protocol- bedrock of regime, parties have agreed not to use CBW against one another. No First Use Pledge model.
  • 1972 Biological Weapons Convention- ratified by 155 of 171 states, renounces germ weapons in order to exclude completely the possibility of such weapons being used against humans. Explicitly outlaws development, production and stockpiling of biological and toxin weapons. Lacks ancillary provisions thought necessary to enforce: means of monitoring, or enforcing compliance.

1977 EnMod Treaty- the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques. Less than majority of states have signed on.

  • The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention- prohibits development, production, and stockpiling toxic weapons. Has Inspectorate provisions.
  • Empowerment of the UN Secretary General to Investigate Use Allegations 1987
  • UNSC Resolution 1540 (2004) –an international response to impending WMD terrorism, universalize parts of BWC and CWC to non-state actors.
biological weapons
Biological Weapons
  • During the Cold War the US and Soviet Union developed arsenals. In 1969 President Nixon announced that the US would unilaterally and unconditionally renounce biological weapons. He ordered the destruction of the entire US stockpile and conversation of all facilities to peaceful purposes.
  • BWC goes into force 1975 with 4 nations thought to have programs (US, Soviets, China, So Africa). By spring 2005, 169 signed but 7 suspected of research program ( China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, No. Korea, Russia, Syria).

Soviet Union-claimed ended program but Yeltsin admitted in 1992 had continued substantial levels. Uncertainty about facilities and stockpiles continue.

  • Israel-sophisticated research program and facilities.
  • No. Korea- program since 1960s, uncertain status.
  • China-large, developed biotechnical infrastructure, but reject claims.
  • Iran-smaller program

Syria-biotechnical infrastructure capable of production but not yet known to be weaponized.

  • Egypt-small program, officials reject
  • Other states potential concern: Sudan, So. Africa, Taiwan, India, Pakistan.
  • Iraq and Libya both had active programs
  • Difficulty with weaponizationand dissemination.
  • Anthrax scares but only 2 significant attacks: Japanese religious sect AumShrinrikyo try to weaponizebotulinum toxin but settle with chemical agent sarin for attackes in Tokyo subway in 1994 and 1995.
  • 1984 Dalles, Oregon, religious cult Rajneesh disseminated salmonella bacterium in 10 restaurants, infecting 750, but not deaths.

October 2001, letters sent to members of Congress and the media containing anthrax. No sophisticated dispersal mechanism. Killed 5, infected 18 others

  • Mass disruption, psychological implications, and billions in decontamination and prevention expenses.
chemical weapons
Chemical Weapons
  • 5 metric tons of the nerve gas sarin carried in bombs could kill 50% of the people over 4 square kilometers. By comparison, a Hiroshima size nuclear bomb of 12 kiloton yield would kill 50% of the population over 30 square kilometers.
  • Only isolated use since WWI, 1996 CWC started deproliferation, destruction of stockpiles mandated to be done safely by 2007. 168 countries parties.

Russia largest stockpile, financial difficulties destroying. Potential non-secure stockpiles.

  • 11 nations have declared: Bosnia & Herzegovina, China, France, India, Iran, Japan, Russia, So. Korea, UK, US, Yugoslavia.
  • Suspected stockpiles: No. Korea, Israel, Egypt, Syria. Not signatories.
  • Research programs: Sudan, Pakistan, India, So. Korea.
relative dangers
Relative Dangers?
  • “On the basis of the proceeding information, it is reasonable to conclude that of all the potential threats, nuclear weapons pose the greatest risks….These four categories of threat are nuclear terrorism, new nuclear weapon states and regional conflict, existing nuclear arsenals, and regime collapse.” Joseph Cirincione, et al, Deadly Arsenals, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005.

“The central point is that the three kinds of weapons differ in important ways with respect to both productions and lethality. In general, chemical weapons are the easiest to make but are unlikely to produce the cataclysmic levels of destruction that could result from the use of biological or nuclear weapons. By contrast, nuclear weapons are the most difficult to produce but also the most destructive both in lethality and in the speed by which death and destruction could occur. Biological weapons share the most frightening aspects of each of the other two: biological weapons can be made almost as easily as chemical weapons, yet their destructive potential could approach that of nuclear weapons.” James J. Wirtz, Planning the Unthinkable, 2000

points of comparison
Points of Comparison
  • Use by nations
  • Use by terrorist groups
  • Ease of construction v. destructive potential
  • Ability to control-unilateral and multilateral commitment to control
topic wordings
Topic Wordings
  • R: Unilateral military force by the United States is justified to prevent nuclear proliferation. S/O
  • R: Proliferation of nuclear weapons is a greater threat to the United States than proliferation of biological and chemical weapons. S/O
  • R: As a last resort, unilateral military force is justified to minimize nuclear weapons proliferation. BB