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Atomic Assurance: The Alliance Politics of Nuclear Proliferation

January 17, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

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.

About the speaker

Alexander Lanoszka is an assistant professor of international relations in the Department of Political Science and a fellow in the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo. He previously taught at City, University of London, where he remains an Honorary Fellow. He has also held postdoctoral fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dartmouth College. He researches and writes on alliance politics and theories of war, with peer-reviewed publications appearing in International Security, International Affairs, Security Studies, and other journals. He has published the book Atomic Assurance: The Alliance Politics of Nuclear Proliferation (Cornell, 2018) and two policy monographs with Michael A. Hunzeker of George Mason University that focus on Taiwan (GMU CSPS, 2018) and the Baltic region (U.S. Army War College SSI, 2019). Alexander holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University.


January 17, 2019
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Category:


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Balsillie School of International Affairs, 67 Erb Street West
Waterloo, ON N2L 6C2 Canada
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(226) 772-3001
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