"I want to tell you that your fact sheet on the [Missile Technology Control Regime] is very well done and useful for me when I have to speak on MTCR issues."

– Amb. Thomas Hajnoczi
Chair, MTCR
May 19, 2021
Books of Note
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Nuclear Deterrence in the 21st Century: Lessons from the Cold War for a New Era of Strategic Piracy

Thérèse Delpech, RAND, 2012, 181 pp.

Greg Thielmann

In this concise but comprehensive volume, the late Thérèse Delpech explores strategic nuclear concepts in light of historical experience, reopening some assumptions that have long gone unchallenged. The book begins with the argument that a renewed intellectual effort is needed to understand the “second nuclear age,” emerging in the late 1990s following four decades of bipolar nuclear competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. It then deconstructs such pillars of Cold War nuclear strategy as “extended deterrence,” “mutual assured destruction,” and “parity.” Delpech chronicles a long list of nuclear crises, incorporating recent revelations from declassified archives. These range from citing President Dwight Eisenhower’s authorization of preparations to use nuclear weapons against China in 1958 during the second Taiwan Strait crisis to examining the four times President Richard Nixon said he had considered using nuclear weapons during his administration. She then draws historical lessons about the nature of deterrence, such as “superiority is not the decisive factor” and “participants are never in full control of events.” In exploring “the age of small powers,” Delpech concentrates on Iran and North Korea, but also discusses Pakistan and Syria, delivering a pessimistic prognosis on handling each of the four. Finally, she plows new ground in describing challenges from the two “contested global commons” of space and cyberspace. Although readers may reach different conclusions on various aspects of her analysis, few would challenge the rigorous approach Delpech has taken in raising the critical questions—a fitting final tribute to one of France’s foremost international security thinkers.



Sanctions, Statecraft, and Nuclear Proliferation

Etel Solingen, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2012, 402 pp.

Kelsey Davenport

This four-part compilation seeks to influence the debate on the efficacy of sanctions as a mechanism for curbing nuclear proliferation by expanding the discussion to include an examination of the role that positive inducements played in the decisions of certain states on whether to pursue nuclear weapons programs. The first section provides an overview of sanctions and positive inducements. Included is a chapter by Celia L. Reynolds and Wilfred T. Wan that presents a valuable empirical analysis of unilateral and multilateral actions taken by countries to curb nuclear proliferation. To create this comprehensive profile, the authors examined sanctions and inducements directed at Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea from 1990 to 2009. The second part of the book examines the different mechanisms through which sanctions and inducements affect a regime’s decision to pursue or abandon nuclear weapons programs. Daniel W. Drezner makes a compelling argument against so-called targeted sanctions, which seek to pressure regime supporters while minimizing humanitarian suffering. He argues in favor of an “eclectic approach” whereby policymakers consider “multiple causal pathways” and take into consideration potential unintended negative effects when crafting sanctions. He presents nine mechanisms through which more-comprehensive sanctions could pressure a regime to alter national policy. In-depth case studies on the role of sanctions and positive inducements in Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea are presented in part three. In the final section, Etel Solingen synthesizes the overarching policy implications of the previous sections’ conclusions on sanctions and inducements and identifies areas for further research.