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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Nuclear Revolution, Relative Gains, and International Nuclear Assistance


Why do states provide sensitive nuclear assistance to nonnuclear-weapon states? The author argues that states provide international nuclear assistance to constrain other more powerful states. The evidence suggests that the empirical pattern of nuclear assistance is best explained by a number of strategic preconditions: relative power, dependence on a superpower patron, and the nature of the nuclear recipient’s security environment. This research speaks to a broader debate about the impact of nuclear proliferation on the international system. It shows that the costs of nuclear proliferation are most heavily borne by the international system’s most powerful states.

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