The Spread of Nuclear Technology: The Difficulty of Arms Control and the Consequences of Nuclear Proliferation
Author ORCID Identifier
Year of Publication
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Arts and Sciences
Dr. Jesse Johnson
The potential impact of nuclear technology on international relations raises a number of important questions for scholars and policymakers. This dissertation focuses on different aspects of nuclear-related cooperation and competition and attempts to answer some of these questions. In this dissertation, I address three main puzzles related to nuclear politics using a mixed methods approach. First, I examine the consequences of the spread of nuclear technology on the outcomes of international crises, specifically focusing on the impact of nuclear weapons tests on crisis outcomes. Using data on nuclear weapons tests, I argue and find support for the notion that nuclear powers are hesitant to ban nuclear weapons tests because they use nuclear weapons tests as part of a brinkmanship strategy during international crises, with the winner being determined by which state has greater levels or resolve.
Next, I begin to examine why it is difficult for the international community to control the spread of nuclear technology. Focusing on international arms control efforts, I ask what prevents states from designing strong arms control agreements. Using both statistical analysis and case studies, I find that different sources of threat lead to different design choices. This is especially the case when the threats originate from states that are not part of the negotiation process, states choose to design flexible, less constraining agreements. Finally, I again examine on why it is difficult to control the spread of nuclear technology, but this time focus on the efforts of the United States. Previous research demonstrates that the United States uses a mix of positive and negative inducements in order to get states to reverse or slow down their nuclear programs, with the most effective approach being a dual-track approach that uses both positive and negative inducements. What is unclear is why the United States does not always pursue the successful dual-track approach to nuclear counterproliferation. I argue and present evidence that the United States’ counterproliferation policy is constrained by the interaction of domestic politics and the broader international strategic environment.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Beschorner, Bryce Allen, "The Spread of Nuclear Technology: The Difficulty of Arms Control and the Consequences of Nuclear Proliferation" (2023). Theses and Dissertations--Political Science. 43.