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Atomic Assurance

The Alliance Politics of Nuclear Proliferation

Alexander Lanoszka

Publisher: Cornell University Press
Pages: 216
eBook ISBN: 9781501729188


Do alliances curb efforts by states to develop nuclear weapons? Atomic Assurance looks at what makes alliances sufficiently credible to prevent nuclear proliferation; how alliances can break down and so encourage nuclear proliferation; and whether security guarantors like the United States can use alliance ties to end the nuclear efforts of their allies.

Alexander Lanoszka finds that military alliances are less useful in preventing allies from acquiring nuclear weapons than conventional wisdom suggests. Through intensive case studies of West Germany, Japan, and South Korea, as well as a series of smaller cases on Great Britain, France, Norway, Australia, and Taiwan, Atomic Assurance shows that it is easier to prevent an ally from initiating a nuclear program than to stop an ally that has already started one; in-theater conventional forces are crucial in making American nuclear guarantees credible; the American coercion of allies who started, or were tempted to start, a nuclear weapons program has played less of a role in forestalling nuclear proliferation than analysts have assumed; and the economic or technological reliance of a security-dependent ally on the United States works better to reverse or to halt that ally's nuclear bid than anything else.

Crossing diplomatic history, international relations, foreign policy, grand strategy, and nuclear strategy, Lanoszka's book reworks our understanding of the power and importance of alliances in stopping nuclear proliferation.


Alexander Lanoszka is Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Waterloo. Previously, he taught at City, University of London and has held fellowships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dartmouth College. His research on alliance politics, theories of war, and European security has appeared in International Security, Security Studies, International Affairs, Survival, and other academic journals. He holds a PhD from Princeton University.


"In case studies of West Germany, Japan, and South Korea, Lanoszka compares alternative explanations for proliferation decisions, finding support for his claims.... The analysis offered is well-reasoned."
- Choice

"Atomic Assurance addresses an important question: how do military alliances influence nuclear proliferation? Alexander Lanozska?s argument cuts against conventional wisdom and contains a wealth of information that will be new and thought-provoking to many readers."
- Matt Fuhrmann, Professor of Political Science, Texas A&M University, and author of Atomic Assistance: How "Atoms for Peace" Programs Cause Nuclear Insecurity

"In this extremely timely book, Alexander Lanoszka, through a series of impressive case studies, illuminates nuances in how and when alliances can prevent nuclear proliferation. Given the growing debate in the US about its future alliance commitments abroad, this book could not have come at a more important time."
- Vipin Narang, Associate Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology