The Philosophy of Nuclear Proliferation/non-Proliferation: Why States Build or Forgo Nuclear Weapons?

By Ahmed, Ashfaq | Trames, December 2017 | Go to article overview

The Philosophy of Nuclear Proliferation/non-Proliferation: Why States Build or Forgo Nuclear Weapons?


Ahmed, Ashfaq, Trames


1. Introduction

Nuclear proliferation no doubt is a difficult task it involves risks and challenges yet it is one of the biggest challenge posing direct threat to international peace, security and strategic stability. International community's endeavor to halt proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) or related technology is simultaneously a difficult mission. The central objective of this paper is to understand and explain the phenomenon of nuclear proliferation and non-proliferation by applying different theoretical models including liberalism, realism and nuclear deterrence theory. It further attempts to highlight the point of difference between liberalism and realism on the phenomenon of nuclear proliferation. Liberalism offers effective theoretical framework for understanding international cooperation focused on achieving distinct national interests without going to war. It provides reasoning that non-proliferation mechanism based on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) cannot be evolved in isolation. However, major portion of this chapter discusses causes of proliferation through realist's worldview. This paper debates the following questions:

* How liberalism enable opposing states to cooperate?

* Why states go to war?

* Why states adopt strategies based on war avoidance?

* How nuclear deterrence defuse crisis?

* What are the requirements of credible nuclear deterrence?

* How possessions of WMDs enable states to achieve national interests?

2. Liberalism

Neo-liberalism believes states play leading role in world affairs. It emphasizes cooperation among states through institutions building to affect state behaviour. It encourages cooperation among states to achieve security goals. Cooperation through institutions in anarchic system of states is noticeable rejection of realist teachings. Institutions gained prominence, assert Robert Keohane and Lisa Martin (Keoane & Martin 1995) because of their effectiveness to identify common grounds for cooperation. It promises incentives for cooperating states hence states voluntarily agree to cooperate to avoid crisis and the outbreak of violence. Voluntary adherence reflects acceptance of states to willingly reduce their share by devising mutually accepted rules necessary to allow competing states to secure or achieve national interests peacefully. It reflects rational decision making approach by avoiding war through institution building. Liberalism ignores possible cheating behaviour among cooperating states by reducing the fear through cooperation and mediation, if dispute emerges over distribution of gains. It echoes the emerging powerful role of institutions as equalizer, ability to limit problems and suspicions. Peculiar characteristics of institutions force states to enter into cooperation to achieve enduring, sustainable and absolute gains. Liberals believe states increase their power by developing institutions. The world or regional peace and stability thus depend upon institution building rather than BoP.

The organization, successful performance and preservation of institutions in some instances require major powers support. Major Powers support or setup the agenda for institutions to ensure the status quo and reduce economic cost of independent decision making. A state ability to influence or monopolies institution's decision making process determines state position in international community. The West developed, financed and preserving prominent institutions including the United Nations (UN), World Trade Organisation (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and IAEA. Development of these institutions strengthens liberal's argument that cooperation reduces anarchy, overcome trust deficit and mutually distribute incentives among cooperating states. …

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