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Scott Sagan Article Analysis & notes

Political Science
Course Code
John Haines

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Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons? : Three Models in Search of a Bomb
- By Scott D. Sagan
Having an answer to the question, why do states build nuclear weapons? Is crucial for
- predicting the long-term future of international security
- Current foreign policy efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
Surprising how Little information has been focused to examining alternative answers because
- The answer to this proliferation puzzle is agreed upon by the U.S. policymakers and
most international relations scholars.
- It is that states will develop nuclear weapons when they face a military threat to their
security that cannot be met through alternative means; if they do not face such threats,
they will willingly remain non-nuclear states.
Central Purpose of this article
- Challenge this perception about nuclear proliferation.
- He says that view focusing on national security considerations as the cause of
o Insufficient because nuclear weapons programs also serve other objectives.
Argument of Security put forward by ± states motive build weapons
- Explains cases of nuclear weapon proliferation by security interests only.
Nuclear Weapons - are more than tools; are objects of political importance in domestic debates
and internal bureaucratic; international normative symbols.
- He suggests 3 frameworks to build or refrain from developing nuclear weapons:
- "The Security Model," ; "The Domestic Politics Model," ; "The Norms Model,"
If his arguments correct,
- Sagan says that next to security aspects, domestic or norms factors can trigger military
nuclear proliferation and restrain.
o Thus only paying attention to the security issues is inadequate.
The Security Model
- His argument is that states build nuclear weapons to increase national security against foreign
threats, especially nuclear threats
accordance with the tradition of Realism.
According to neorealist theory in political science,
- states exist in anarchical international system and thus
- Rely on self-help to protect their sovereignty and national security.
He says two policies - strong states and weak states
- 1) Strong states ± pursue a form of internal balancing by pursuing self-sufficient policies
to develop own nuclear weapons.
- 2) Weak states - join alliance with a nuclear power, and hope - provide prevention
o Some weak states have no options other than doing this.
This model, as an explanation for nuclear weapon proliferation, leads to an international system
- forces states to a policy of balance of power and status quo
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