Gold Standard or Case-by-Case: Which Method Is Best for the Nonproliferation Regime?
Farlow, Troy Jay
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CitationFarlow, Troy Jay. 2014. Gold Standard or Case-by-Case: Which Method Is Best for the Nonproliferation Regime?. Master's thesis, Harvard University, Extension School.
AbstractWith the Manhattan Project in the 1940s, U.S. nuclear technology created the first nuclear bombs, which promptly ended World War II. What to do with this new technology with regard to nuclear armaments never seemed hard to comprehend, as the world witnessed the advent of the nuclear arms race that led to the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union until almost the end of the 20th century. Since the dawn of this new atomic age however, the United States has wrestled indefinitely with how best to promote peaceful nuclear technology for nuclear energy programs around the globe, while at the same time curtailing the proliferation of nuclear weapons--what is known as the nonproliferation regime. The dual-use nature of peaceful nuclear technology has brought countries worldwide one giant step closer to acquiring nuclear weapons, which has posed great challenges to the progression of the nonproliferation regime. This study examines two distinct arms control policy approaches currently being contemplated for future bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement negotiations with countries interested in partnering with the United States. The case-by-case policy method is a negotiation between the United States and a country seeking nuclear energy technology and expertise and is a negotiation based on the foreign policy variables at the time of the nuclear contract. The gold standard policy method is a similar negotiation, with the additional caveat that the partnering country must give up its right to obtaining and creating indigenous nuclear fuel with these sensitive nuclear technologies. The advocates of the latter policy claim it is the most effective way to ensure that the country will not ultimately proliferate and build a nuclear arms arsenal. This study explores both policy methods in detail. Using a case study methodology as the empirical part of the study, I then apply the merits of these arguments to numerous countries considering nuclear agreements with the United States. After the arguments for both policy methods are thoroughly vetted and then aligned alongside the potential individual bilateral nuclear partners, the research overwhelmingly found that the gold standard method's requirement that countries forego their right to explore and possibly obtain sensitive nuclear technologies and capabilities for peaceful nuclear energy programs, while an admirable aim, would nonetheless, weaken the nonproliferation regime, not strengthen it. This study found that the case-by-case method is the best method based on the evidence uncovered in this research. The United States, when approached by a country considering a nuclear agreement in exchange for nuclear expertise, brings to each negotiation the following items: a varying level of leverage depending on the country that has approached the United States, a declining domestic nuclear industry, and finally, the weight of hypocrisy on its back in that the United States has these sensitive nuclear technologies and the majority of the other countries in the world do not but feel that they possess these rights through their membership in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that is the bedrock of the entire nuclear regime. Therefore, based on a thorough analysis of the arguments and country case studies, the research supports the case-by-case method as the best method for U.S. nuclear policy makers to employ in future bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements. The case-by-case method is based in reality and the gold standard, while its aims are admirable, is not. The gold standard will therefore actually weaken the nonproliferation regime, rather than strengthen it.
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