Poster Paper: An Evidence-Based Strategy to Prevent Nuclear Proliferation: A Historical Approach

Friday, March 29, 2019
Mary Graydon Center - Room 2-5 (American University)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Ricardo Lopez, Virginia Commonwealth University

An Evidence-Based Strategy to Prevent Nuclear Proliferation: A Historical Approach

The purpose of this research was to explore how the U.S. counterproliferation policy must change to improve its ability to mitigate the risk of a nuclear incident. The U.S. has historically applied a framework of five traditional counterproliferation methods to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Intelligence activities, diplomacy, international governance, economic sanctions, and the threat of military force have been the foundation of the U.S. national security strategy to manage the risk of state and non-state actors using nuclear weapons and acquiring nuclear materials. This analysis examined case studies where independent, subordinate factors of a new suggested framework were applied to each counterproliferation method to successfully avoid a potential mass casualty event. The research examined the relationships between (i) intelligence activities and terrorist activity, (ii) diplomacy and religion, (iii) international governance and global political theory, (iv) economic sanctions and academic research, and (v) the threat of military force and technology. The results show that altering the existing framework to comprehensively incorporate the subordinate factors to each counterproliferation method more adequately addresses the underlying causes of nuclear proliferation and mitigates the risk of a nuclear catastrophe. This research contributes to the literature by bridging the gap between reliance upon outdated counterproliferation strategies and forward-looking policy positions to deter nuclear nations that seek to undermine the U.S. ability to defend the peace and prosperity of the U.S. and our allies through nuclear proliferation.