By Andrew Carpenter and Ulrika Grufman
(For more information on this feature, see here.)
And this week’s in the weeds conceptual/theoretical articles on nuclear weapons and related issues include…
Veto Players, Nuclear Energy, and Non-Proliferation
Hymans, J. E. C., 2011. Veto Players, Nuclear Energy, and Non-Proliferation. International Security. Fall, 2011.
“The key point here is that even though the regime-type variable may not be significant, this should not be taken to mean that domestic institutional variables are not significant”. (p.158)
Hymans looks at how states make the decision on whether to pursue a nuclear bomb. Hymans finds that an important aspect of the decision is institutionalized veto players. These are individuals who are able to veto the decisions states make. Hymans performs a case study on Japan, and uses the institutionalized veto players concept to explain why Japan has not moved to acquire a nuclear weapon, nor discard its plutonium fuel cycle. Institutional Veto players in Japan are able to prevent any attempt by Japanese leadership to pursue a nuclear weapon, but also prevent Japan from discontinuing its plutonium production cycle. As a result of this finding, the regime type is not as important as the structure of government institutions. When analysis of a states’ proliferation potential is undertaken, a states’ government institutions must be examined.
Self-Regulation to Promote Nonproliferation
Hund, G. & Seward, A., 2011. Self-Regulation to Promote Nonproliferation. Public Interest Report (Journal of the Federation of American Scientists). Spring 2011. pp.41-43.
“The nuclear industry has a unique opportunity to promote the control and security of nuclear material and technologies. The companies involved in the production and trade of nuclear, radiological, and dual-use commodities and technologies are in an ideal position to bolster existing governmental mechanisms to secure these operations and prevent proliferation.” (p.41)
In this article, Hund and Seward, set out to explain how the nuclear industry could help promote non-proliferation through certain self-regulatory measures. Their argument is based on research by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. They find that many industrial self-regulation processes start by a trigger event, like an industrial accident. They suggest that one such trigger for the nuclear industry could be a nuclear terrorist event. Before this happens, the authors urge companies to take action both on an individual and a cooperative level. These actions can include anything from better regulatory standards to government lobbying. Hund and Seward furthermore argue that it would be in the companies’ best interest to regulate since it could lead to a higher profit, or at least the avoidance of losses.
Proliferation Implications of Civil Nuclear Cooperation
Hymans, J. E. C., 2011. Proliferation Implications of Civil Nuclear Cooperation: Theory and a Case Study of Tito’s Yugoslavia, Security Studies, 20:1, March 2011. pp.73-104
“Atoms for Peace can substantially retard or even reverse the growth of technical capacity to build the bomb, despite the transfer of hardware and know-how that it promotes.” (p.100)
In this article Hymans argues, contrary to the prevailing literature, that civil nuclear cooperation, such as the Atoms for Peace program, can help in preventing developing countries from acquiring a successful nuclear weapons program. He claims that the current literature is outdated and oversimplified. The central thesis of his argument concerns brain drain. By “changing the career opportunities available to the most talented and energetic workers […] Atoms for Peace makes their choice of loyalty more complicated, their choice for voice less dangerous and their choice for exit more feasible” (p.101). The author bases his argument on a case study of the nuclear developments and subsequent closure of the nuclear weapons program in Yugoslavia. He does not claim that Atoms for Peace singlehandedly resulted in the closure of the program or that the results could easily be generalised. He does however call for further studies to be done and he asks for a more nuanced debate on civil nuclear cooperation since it does have policy implications for the U.S.