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<em>Exporting the Bomb: Technology Transfer and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons</em>

Exporting the Bomb: Technology Transfer and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons

Cornell Studies in Security Affairs

Book, Cornell University Press

April 2010

Author: Matthew Kroenig, Former Research Fellow, Project on Managing the Atom/International Security Program, 2007–2008

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Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Managing the Atom; Science, Technology, and Public Policy


In a vitally important book for anyone interested in nuclear proliferation, defense strategy, or international security, Matthew Kroenig points out that nearly every country with a nuclear weapons arsenal received substantial help at some point from a more advanced nuclear state. Why do some countries help others to develop nuclear weapons? Many analysts assume that nuclear transfers are driven by economic considerations. States in dire economic need, they suggest, export sensitive nuclear materials and technology—and ignore the security risk—in a desperate search for hard currency.

Kroenig challenges this conventional wisdom. He finds that state decisions to provide sensitive nuclear assistance are the result of a coherent, strategic logic. The spread of nuclear weapons threatens powerful states more than it threatens weak states, and these differential effects of nuclear proliferation encourage countries to provide sensitive nuclear assistance under certain strategic conditions. Countries are more likely to export sensitive nuclear materials and technology when it would have the effect of constraining an enemy and less likely to do so when it would threaten themselves. In Exporting the Bomb, Kroenig examines the most important historical cases, including France's nuclear assistance to Israel in the 1950s and 1960s; the Soviet Union's sensitive transfers to China from 1958 to 1960; China's nuclear aid to Pakistan in the 1980s; and Pakistan's recent technology transfers, with the help of "rogue" scientist A. Q. Khan, from 1987 to 2002. Understanding why states provide sensitive nuclear assistance not only adds to our knowledge of international politics but also aids in international efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons.


Selected Review:

"Using both statistical analysis and in-depth examinations of particular cases, Matthew Kroenig provides a major extension of the realist theory of nuclear proliferation. According to Kroenig, states do not provide sensitive nuclear technology to others because they need the money—they provide it to further their strategic position and to take advantage of situations where proliferation would not affect their power very much. Kroenig's book is essential reading for all those seeking to understand how and why nuclear weapons spread and will pose an important challenge to those of us who believe that realist perspectives tell only part of that story."—Matthew Bunn, Harvard University


For more information about this publication please contact the MTA Program Assistant at 617-495-4219.

For Academic Citation:

Kroenig, Matthew. Exporting the Bomb: Technology Transfer and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, April 2010.

Document Length: 248 pp.

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