Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Blog-on-Blog: Kroenig Explores Why Do Countries Export Nuclear Weapons

Posted by K.E. White on June 30, 2010

PONI offers a crisp summary of a recent CATO featuring Matthew Kroenig’s new book Exporting the Bomb.

Read the summary, and  track down a copy.  But, for me, the value of this book comes in how it helps policy makers pressure nations to not spread their nuclear weapons?

On this score I’m not sure the book helps (but I’ll have to read it first):  by looking retroactively behind, Kroenig may be imposing a pattern on what are really sui generis instances.  For example, will this model derail once Iran gets the bomb and (may) begin freely exporting nuclear technology to other ‘have nots’?  Furthermore, would one instance of a dirty bomb cause all nations to reassess the strategic gains of proliferation?

Hence, I am not sure Kroenig can get away from the problem that those who study the demand-side for nuclear weapons:  1) lots of variables and 2) thresholds/triggers that remain in persistent flux—reacting to crises. technological changes and the current state of geo-politics.

From PONI’s blog:

Professor Kroenig began by outlining a logic to supply-side nuclear proliferation. Rather than economic benefits, it is strategic calculus that Kroenig believes drives proliferation. Relatively powerful states often face greater negative consequences due to nuclear proliferation that weaker states due to a number of factors, including deterrence of military intervention, a weakening of military coercion, the risks of being pulled into regional nuclear crises, dissipation of states’ strategic attention and assets to cover one more security development, and threats to the cohesion of alliances. As it constrains more powerful actors, weaker states will often benefit from nuclear weapons proliferation.

From this, Kroenig derives three propositions for the conditions under which states chose to provide sensitive nuclear assistance to others. The less powerful a state is relative to the recipient, the more likely it is to provide assistance. Common enemies are another condition that can spark nuclear assistance between states. Third, the less dependent a state is on a superpower patron, the more likely it is to undertake illicit transfers, as it will not have to weigh the costs of losing security guarantees against the perceived benefits of proliferating.

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One Response to “Blog-on-Blog: Kroenig Explores Why Do Countries Export Nuclear Weapons”

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