Select Page

The North Korean nuclear debacle has renewed academic debates over the predictive accuracy of theories of nuclear proliferation. A recent piece found most of those theories deficient for predicting that case.

Are the same mechanisms explaining past choices for nuclear proliferation or nuclear restraint still in place? How have unilateralist statements by US President Donald Trump affected each of those proclivities? And what theories explain East Asian leaders’ responses best?

‘Neorealist’ academic and policy circles have long held that the proliferation of nuclear weapons by one state will inevitably lead others in the region to follow suit. But counter to these decades-old predictions, the East Asian ‘usual suspects’ — Japan and South Korea — have so far refrained from developing nuclear weapons.

Over the last seven decades, Japan and South Korea have witnessed the nuclearisation of three of their neighbours — the Soviet Union (which then became Russia), China and North Korea. But even as North Korea boosts its nuclear and missile capabilities and doubles down on its direct threats, Japan and South Korea have stayed the course of nuclear restraint. Read more

The North Korean nuclear debacle has renewed academic debates over the predictive accuracy of theories of nuclear proliferation. A recent piece found most of those theories deficient for predicting that case.

Are the same mechanisms explaining past choices for nuclear proliferation or nuclear restraint still in place? How have unilateralist statements by US President Donald Trump affected each of those proclivities? And what theories explain East Asian leaders’ responses best?

‘Neorealist’ academic and policy circles have long held that the proliferation of nuclear weapons by one state will inevitably lead others in the region to follow suit. But counter to these decades-old predictions, the East Asian ‘usual suspects’ — Japan and South Korea — have so far refrained from developing nuclear weapons.

Over the last seven decades, Japan and South Korea have witnessed the nuclearisation of three of their neighbours — the Soviet Union (which then became Russia), China and North Korea. But even as North Korea boosts its nuclear and missile capabilities and doubles down on its direct threats, Japan and South Korea have stayed the course of nuclear restraint.