One of the Israeli F-16s that participated in the Osirak attack
"The Effectiveness and Legitimacy of Using Force to Prevent Nuclear Proliferation"
Author: Martin B. Malin, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom
This chapter examines instances in which states have used military force for the purpose of preventing or delaying an adversary’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. What can be learned from past cases? What are the barriers to effective military prevention? Under what conditions has the use of force been successful in proliferation cases? How is the policy perceived by neutral governments and what is the relationship between the perceived legitimacy of military action and its political effectiveness? The chapter reviews all cases in which force was used to attempt to destroy an adversary’s nuclear facilities. The cases demonstrate that attackers encounter numerous obstacles to success, including: inadequate intelligence for destroying all key facilities, the inability to deprive the targeted state of the knowledge base upon which its program was built, intensification of nuclear ambition and the reconstitution of less vulnerable facilities in the targeted state, escalating costs of containing proliferation, timing difficulties, and conflicting strategic impulses that have at times led to incoherent policies. Favorable circumstances for effective preventive strikes are rare. Limited aims and strong international support appear to be necessary for successful prevention.
- MBMalin_Use_Of_Force.pdf (2.7 MB PDF)
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