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The Handbook of Global Security Policy by Mary Kaldor, Iavor Rangelov

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Chapter 6 Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation

Maria Rost Rublee

Conventional wisdom about nuclear weapons decision-making argues that nuclear policy is based on material cost-benefit calculations, with systemic forces propelling states into a narrow range of choices. Nuclear proliferation is unsurprising, given the anarchical state system; nonproliferation will succeed only if the great powers can enforce it through a system of benefits and sanctions; disarmament is both unlikely and undesirable. This chapter examines conventional wisdom on all counts and finds it wanting. Nuclear weapons decision-making is more than a simple response to material conditions; ideational influences, including norms, psychology, language and beliefs, shape global nuclear futures in incontrovertible ways. As a result, nuclear proliferation is rare, nonproliferation is more often embraced than forced, and the issue of disarmament has become more, not less, potent.

This chapter specifically focuses on the latter two topics, nonproliferation and disarmament, both neglected by conventional scholarship. First, these ambiguous and sometimes overlapping terms will be examined: what exactly is meant by disarmament and nonproliferation? Next, the chapter will explore each topic in-depth before moving into an exploration of the future frontiers in research on the topic. What can new perspectives on disarmament and nonproliferation add to global security policy debates? The chapter ends with comparative ...

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