Atomic Assistance

Atomic Assistance: How “Atoms for Peace” Programs Cause Nuclear Insecurity

Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Atomic Assistance
    Book Description:

    Nuclear technology is dual use in nature, meaning that it can be used to produce nuclear energy or to build nuclear weapons. Despite security concerns about proliferation, the United States and other nuclear nations have regularly shared with other countries nuclear technology, materials, and knowledge for peaceful purposes. In Atomic Assistance, Matthew Fuhrmann argues that governments use peaceful nuclear assistance as a tool of economic statecraft. Nuclear suppliers hope that they can reap the benefits of foreign aid-improving relationships with their allies, limiting the influence of their adversaries, enhancing their energy security by gaining favorable access to oil supplies-without undermining their security. By providing peaceful nuclear assistance, however, countries inadvertently help spread nuclear weapons.

    Fuhrmann draws on several cases of "Atoms for Peace," including U.S. civilian nuclear assistance to Iran from 1957 to 1979; Soviet aid to Libya from 1975 to 1986; French, Italian, and Brazilian nuclear exports to Iraq from 1975 to 1981; and U.S. nuclear cooperation with India from 2001 to 2008. He also explores decision making in countries such as Japan, North Korea, Pakistan, South Africa, and Syria to determine why states began (or did not begin) nuclear weapons programs and why some programs succeeded while others failed. Fuhrmann concludes that, on average, countries receiving higher levels of peaceful nuclear assistance are more likely to pursue and acquire the bomb-especially if they experience an international crisis after receiving aid.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6575-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. Introduction: Unintented Consequences in International Politics
    (pp. 1-12)

    In the late 1950s a South African nuclear scientist named J. Wynand de Villiers traveled to the United States to visit Argonne National Laboratory—a hub of America’s atomic research at the time—which was located about 25 miles southwest of Chicago.¹ He had been invited by the U.S. government to receive training in the peacetime applications of nuclear energy. In the spirit of “atoms for peace,” Washington hoped that de Villiers would use the knowledge he obtained to help South Africa experience the benefits of atomic power. Once he returned home, de Villiers did just that. In the 1960s,...

  7. Chapter 1 Definitions and Patterns of Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation
    (pp. 13-30)

    Since the initial drive by the United States to share technology and knowledge for peaceful purposes in the 1950s, civilian nuclear cooperation has occurred regularly. Nevertheless, it remains poorly understood and has rarely received scholarly attention. Some important questions must be addressed before analyzing the causes and strategic effects of nuclear cooperation. What is peaceful nuclear assistance? What are the different types of aid that nuclear suppliers can provide? How can we measure atomic assistance? What are the historical trends in civilian nuclear cooperation? How frequently have suppliers provided atomic aid, and with whom have they shared nuclear technology, materials,...


    • Chapter 2 Economic Statecraft and Atoms for Peace: A Theory of Peaceful Nuclear Assistance
      (pp. 33-48)

      Why do countries provide peaceful nuclear assistance to other states? Suppliers use this type of foreign aid as a tool of economic statecraft to influence the behavior of their friends and adversaries. Civilian aid is strategically valuable in part because it strengthens the recipient country economically and bolsters the bilateral relationship between the supplier and importer. Some have argued that nuclear assistance can promote suppliers’ strategic interests by helping recipient states build the bomb.¹ Although this may be true when it comes to military assistance, nuclear suppliers consciously seek to avoid this outcome when engaging in civilian nuclear cooperation—even...

    • Chapter 3 The Historical Record: A First Cut
      (pp. 49-80)

      Countries use peaceful nuclear assistance as a means to enhance their political influence by managing their relationships with strategically important states. In particular, suppliers provide aid to: (1) keep their allies and alliances strong; (2) constrain their adversaries by cultivating closer ties with states that are vulnerable to influence or aggression from their enemies; and (3) prop up existing democracies (if the supplier is also a democracy).

      In this chapter, I test my argument and the alternative explanations using statistical analysis and the dataset on peaceful nuclear cooperation that I described in chapter 1. The initial findings lend support to...

    • Chapter 4 Nuclear Arms and Influence: Assisting India, Iran, and Libya
      (pp. 81-109)

      Do the causal processes driving my theory operate correctly in actual cases of civilian nuclear assistance? One way to answer this question is to qualitatively evaluate cases where my statistical model correctly predicted the occurrence of nuclear cooperation.¹ Such cases should yield two main pieces of evidence if my argument is correct. First, leaders and other senior decision makers should justify atomic assistance on the grounds that it will strengthen the recipient country and the supplier’s bilateral relationship with that country. Second, government officials should indicate that this is part of a broader strategy to (1) keep their allies and...

    • Chapter 5 A Thirst for Oil and Other Motives: Nine Puzzling Cases of Assistance
      (pp. 110-128)

      On average, suppliers use nuclear aid as a tool of economic statecraft to influence the behavior of their friends and adversaries. There are cases of nuclear cooperation, however, that are not successfully predicted by my theory. Out of all the cases in the dataset where nuclear cooperation agreements were signed about 20 percent do not appear to be influenced by the supplier state’s political interests.¹ This chapter examines nine of these outlying cases to uncover the reasons for the onset of nuclear assistance. Why were the outliers not predicted by my theory and are they best explained by one of...

    • Chapter 6 Oil for Peaceful Nuclear Assistance?
      (pp. 129-140)

      Oil is a critical resource in contemporary international politics. It is essential for economic growth and energy security—particularly for countries that use oil to generate electricity.¹ States therefore often pursue foreign policies that ensure a stable supply of oil.² For example, countries may export strategic commodities such as arms to states that are oil producers in order to receive oil imports on favorable terms.³

      Do supplier countries swap nuclear assistance for oil? Civilian nuclear assistance provided to Iraq in the 1970s and early 1980s suggests that there may be a relationship between oil and atoms for peace. When Brazil,...


    • Chapter 7 Spreading Temptation: Why Nuclear Export Strategies Backfire
      (pp. 143-179)

      Nuclear suppliers transfer nuclear technology, materials, and know-how to enhance their politico-strategic influence in international politics. In particular, countries offer aid to strengthen allies and alliances; forge closer relationships with enemies of enemies; strengthen ties with other democracies; and enhance their energy security by trading technology, materials, and know-how for oil—but only when petroleum prices increase sharply.

      Does atomic assistance inadvertently raise the likelihood of nuclear weapons proliferation? This chapter introduces a theory of proliferation, which suggests that civilian nuclear assistance raises the likelihood that countries will begin nuclear weapons programs, particularly if they experience an international crisis after...

    • Chapter 8 Who Builds Bombs? How Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Facilitates the Spread of Nuclear Weapons
      (pp. 180-206)

      Peaceful nuclear assistance raises the risk that countries will pursue nuclear weapons, especially if security threats later arise. Does nuclear cooperation also increase the likelihood that states will successfully build the bomb? If so, how?

      Statistical tests reveal that there is a correlation between nuclear cooperation agreements and nuclear weapons production even when accounting for military assistance and the other factors that are thought to influence the spread of the bomb. Analysis using disaggregated independent variables shows that comprehensive power NCAs are strongly associated with weapons production but other types of agreements are not. Further tests indicate that militarized conflict...

    • Chapter 9 Have International Institutions Made the World Safer?
      (pp. 207-238)

      The international community, led by major powers such as the United States, has instituted policies to separate the peaceful and military uses of the atom. The 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty established a comprehensive system of safeguards to make it more difficult for countries to draw on peaceful nuclear assistance to build nuclear weapons; the Additional Protocol fortified the safeguards regime in the late 1990s. To what degree have these measures made a difference?

      The nonproliferation regime could theoretically limit the proliferation potential of peaceful nuclear assistance by reducing uncertainty about states’ intentions, and by raising the costs of violating a...

  10. Conclusion: What Peaceful Nuclear Assistance Teaches Us about International Relations
    (pp. 239-256)

    This book has broadly addressed the use of economic statecraft to achieve foreign policy objectives and the ways in which attempts to influence the behavior of other states can have unintended consequences for international security. It has analyzed three specific questions relating to civilian nuclear cooperation: Why do nuclear suppliers provide peaceful nuclear assistance to other countries? Does peaceful nuclear assistance raise the likelihood of nuclear weapons proliferation? And, have international institutions influenced the nuclear marketplace and mitigated the potential perils of atomic assistance?

    I argued that politico-strategic factors drive the nuclear marketplace. Countries provide atomic assistance to enhance their...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 257-308)
  12. Index
    (pp. 309-320)