Nuclear Leverage: U.S. Intervention in Sensitive Technology Transfers in the 1970s
The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 473-492 (2013)
Posted: 26 Dec 2015 Last revised: 26 Sep 2016
Most observers would surmise that the United States applies significant pressure on certain states behind closed doors to deal with nuclear proliferation threats. While information about such pressures today remains classified, information about similar pressures in the 1970s has become available via the Freedom of Information Act. This article draws on hundreds of unpublished, declassified government documents from multiple archives to recount how the United States intervened in sensitive technology transfers to Brazil, South Korea, and Pakistan in the 1970s. In each case, U.S. officials employed concrete sources of leverage to pressure states to cancel their nuclear arrangements. Notably, however, the United States today no longer possesses the leverage it used in the 1970s to deliver pressure. In particular, U.S. nuclear leverage—nuclear technology, nuclear financing, and nuclear fuel—has diminished significantly over the past three decades. Policy makers in Washington therefore must ask themselves: to what extent has this loss of leverage weakened the ability of the United States to deal with nuclear proliferation threats today?
Keywords: nuclear, nonproliferation, disarmament, leverage
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