8-1: The Causes of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation

Scott Sagan highlights the multiple arguments justifying and refuting nuclear proliferation, providing evidence that either further verifies the claim or disputes it. Regardless, Sagan notes that identification of nuclear proliferation trends because of the country specific parameters.

What I found the most interesting was the higher chance for a democratic nation to pursue a nuclear weapon versus a non-democratic one. This raises an interesting question whether such programs were initially pursued clandestinely, like the United States, or whether public support favored weaponization? It seems unlikely to have a large population consensus for nuclearization. If this is the case then what motivates democratic nations to have a higher chance to pursue nuclear program? Are these programs veiled behind energy endeavors?

In addition, Sagan’s arguments question the effectiveness of the nuclear proliferation treaty? He notes that nuclear weapon states (NWS) have used the treaty to justify not giving non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS) nuclear technology or essentially to prevent other nations from obtaining nuclear technology. It is interesting to question whether such a treaty is truly effective without an effective enforcement force? For instance, when India and Pakistan, obtained nuclear weapons there was limited action pursued against the nations beyond rhetoric. If this is the case, then is there a true deterrent from pursuing a nuclear weapon. Similarly, if the nations truly enforcing the NPT with diplomatic and military pressure are the ones with nuclear weapons can the treaty be expected to be fair and effective? It seems unlikely that the NPT to be a stable treaty for longevity.

That said, the NPT does provide guidelines to assess nuclear weaponization attempts. So would it be ideal to design a new NPT that empowers the International Atomic Energy Agency to be able to enforce its sanctions effectively. This does not seem feasible given current situations, but I believe such a discussion could be better flesh out the criterion for determining nuclear weaponization attempts and establish appropriate punishments that would help to limit nuclear proliferation. — Chiraag