Exporting the Bomb

Exporting the Bomb: Technology Transfer and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons

Matthew Kroenig
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Exporting the Bomb
    Book Description:

    In a vitally important book for anyone interested in nuclear proliferation, defense strategy, or international security, Matthew Kroenig points out that nearly every country with a nuclear weapons arsenal received substantial help at some point from a more advanced nuclear state. Why do some countries help others to develop nuclear weapons? Many analysts assume that nuclear transfers are driven by economic considerations. States in dire economic need, they suggest, export sensitive nuclear materials and technology-and ignore the security risk-in a desperate search for hard currency.

    Kroenig challenges this conventional wisdom. He finds that state decisions to provide sensitive nuclear assistance are the result of a coherent, strategic logic. The spread of nuclear weapons threatens powerful states more than it threatens weak states, and these differential effects of nuclear proliferation encourage countries to provide sensitive nuclear assistance under certain strategic conditions. Countries are more likely to export sensitive nuclear materials and technology when it would have the effect of constraining an enemy and less likely to do so when it would threaten themselves.

    In Exporting the Bomb, Kroenig examines the most important historical cases, including France's nuclear assistance to Israel in the 1950s and 1960s; the Soviet Union's sensitive transfers to China from 1958 to 1960; China's nuclear aid to Pakistan in the 1980s; and Pakistan's recent technology transfers, with the help of "rogue" scientist A. Q. Khan, from 1987 to 2002. Understanding why states provide sensitive nuclear assistance not only adds to our knowledge of international politics but also aids in international efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5891-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION: The Problem of Nuclear Assistance
    (pp. 1-9)

    Nuclear proliferation poses a grave threat to international peace and security. For this reason, politicians, policymakers, and academics worry that nuclear-capable states will provide sensitive nuclear assistance to other states or terrorist networks, further fueling the spread of nuclear weapons. For example, following North Korea’s nuclear test in October 2006, George W. Bush declared that “the transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable of the consequences of such action.”¹

    The empirical record provides reason for...

    (pp. 10-49)

    This chapter develops a strategic theory of nuclear proliferation and applies it to the problem of sensitive nuclear assistance. In short, I will argue that nuclear proliferation threatens some states more than others and that the threat posed by nuclear proliferation depends on a state’s ability to project military power. States that have the ability to project military power over a particular target state, states that I call “power-projecting states,” are most threatened by nuclear proliferation to that particular state because nuclear proliferation in that instance will constrain their conventional military freedom of action. On the other hand, states that...

    (pp. 50-66)

    This chapter presents a number of statistical tests, drawing on an original sensitive nuclear assistance dataset, to analyze the determinants of nuclear assistance. The analysis provides strong support for the strategic theory of nuclear proliferation presented in this book. In accordance with Hypothesis 1, the less able a state is to project power over a potential nuclear recipient, the more likely it is to provide sensitive nuclear assistance to that state. States are more likely to export sensitive nuclear materials and technology to states with which they share a common enemy, consistent with Hypothesis 2. And, in support of Hypothesis...

  8. 3 ISRAEL’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM: French Assistance and U.S. Resistance
    (pp. 67-110)

    From 1959 to 1965, France provided Israel with sensitive nuclear assistance, helping Israel acquire nuclear weapons. During the same time period, the United States refused Israeli requests for sensitive nuclear assistance and actively intervened in an attempt to prevent French-Israeli nuclear cooperation. What explains the different approaches that France and the United States took to the Israeli nuclear program? Why did France help Israel acquire nuclear weapons? Why was the United States determined to prevent Israel from becoming a nuclear power?

    In this chapter, I argue that the answers to these questions can be found in the strategic theory of...

  9. 4 COMMON ENEMIES, GROWLING DOGS, AND A. Q. KHAN’S PAKISTAN: Nuclear Supply in Other Countries
    (pp. 111-150)

    To this point, the book has provided quantitative evidence and in-depth case analysis that has provided strong support for the strategic theory of nuclear proliferation. Although the evidence presented to this point may be persuasive, a skeptical reader may glance at the list of cases of sensitive nuclear assistance listed in appendix C and wonder whether the theory can explain a broader set of cases. Is the “enemy of my enemy is my customer” logic unique to the France-Israel case, or has the desire to constrain a common enemy encouraged other states to export sensitive nuclear materials and technology? What...

  10. 5 IMPORTING THE BOMB: Nuclear Assistance and Nuclear Proliferation
    (pp. 151-172)

    In previous chapters, I explained the causes of sensitive nuclear assistance. But why should we care about the causes of sensitive nuclear assistance? Does sensitive nuclear assistance lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons? The idea that states that get help with their nuclear programs will be more likely to acquire nuclear weapons has intuitive appeal, but international nuclear transfers may have no meaningful effect on nuclear proliferation. States with an intense demand for nuclear weapons or sufficient domestic industrial capabilities may be able to acquire nuclear weapons whether they receive sensitive nuclear assistance or not. Similarly, states that lack...

  11. CONCLUSION: Preventing Nuclear Proliferation
    (pp. 173-190)

    Why do states provide sensitive nuclear assistance to nonnuclear weapon states, contributing to the international spread of nuclear weapons? Why do other nuclear-capable states refrain from providing such assistance? Few questions are more important for international relations scholars interested in understanding the role of nuclear weapons in international politics and for policymakers interested in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

    Yet scholars have not systematically addressed this topic. Media reports and policy analyses generally claim that sensitive nuclear exports are, like any other export, driven by economic considerations. States, especially states in dire economic straits, export sensitive nuclear materials and...

  12. Appendix A: Data Appendix for Chapter 2
    (pp. 191-195)
  13. Appendix B: Data Appendix for Chapter 5
    (pp. 195-197)
  14. Appendix C: Cases of Sensitive Nuclear Assistance
    (pp. 197-200)
  15. Appendix D: Selected Cases of Nonsensitive Nuclear Assistance
    (pp. 200-202)
  16. Appendix E: Selected Cases of Nonassistance
    (pp. 202-204)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 205-226)
  18. Index
    (pp. 227-234)