Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Arts (DA)


Department of Political Science

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 152 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

David Rousseau

Committee Members

Victor Asal, Tom Walker


Nuclear Proliferation, US Foreign Policy, Nuclear nonproliferation, Nuclear arms control

Subject Categories

International Law | International Relations


The study of US nonproliferation policy has traditionally focused on characteristics of the proliferator to explain variations in the preferred US policy outcome: no new nuclear weapons states. Failures in achieving this goal have most often been attributed to the "roguishness" of the proliferating state, its desire for the international prestige normally associated with achieving nuclear weapon status, or intense security concerns which override its desire or ability to adhere to international and US rules governing nuclear proliferation. The argument being forwarded here is that variations within US nonproliferation policy have been the greatest influence on the attainment of US goals, not necessarily the actions of the proliferators themselves. While US policy rhetoric focuses directly on a universal approach to stopping nuclear proliferation, the application of US policy has been on a case-by-case basis with multiple factors influencing whether or not the US chooses a strong or weak response to another state's nuclear ambitions. The result is that while some states have indeed been strongly confronted by the US (e.g. Iran and North Korea), others have received such weak responses that it amounted to tacit approval of their activities and thus contributed substantially to their nuclear weapons development (e.g. Israel and S. Africa). The question then to be asked is "under what conditions does the US respond strongly against a nuclear weapons program?"