ACA’s journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent.

– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

Books of Note
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Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security: The Challenge of Phasing Out Highly Enriched Uranium

Alan J. Kuperman, ed., Routledge Global Security Studies, 2013, 238 pp.

Yuta Kawashima

Alan J. Kuperman, an associate professor of public affairs and the coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin, has assembled a set of studies exploring the feasibility of a global phase-out of the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU). The studies, written by graduate students for a course organized by the project, cover the non-nuclear-weapon uses of HEU—primarily in research reactors, naval propulsion reactors, and medical isotope production facilities—and the effort involved in converting HEU to low-enriched uranium (LEU) for these uses. In his introduction and conclusion, Kuperman highlights the risks of nuclear terrorism and proliferation posed by continued use of HEU, but also says that the obstacles to an HEU phase-out project are significant. According to Kuperman, “Many scientists and engineers will favor continued HEU use because it is efficient and familiar—and because their main concerns are cost and performance, rather than global security.” In making his case for the phase-out, Kuperman draws lessons from the case studies, which cover countries on five continents. (There is also a chapter on conversion of space reactors.) Among the factors he cites are strong leadership by at least one powerful country, a strengthened international norm against HEU use, and multilateral agreements to create a “level playing field” and reduce the fear of competitive disadvantage. He also argues for positive incentives, such as the $25 million grant that the United States provided to South Africa to encourage conversion.

Ballistic Missile Defense and US National Security Policy: Normalisation and Acceptance After the Cold War

Andrew Futter, Routledge Global Security Studies, 2013

Eric Wey

In this book, Andrew Futter, a lecturer in international politics at the University of Leicester, tracks the evolution of U.S. ballistic missile defense through the lens of U.S. national security policy and domestic politics. Futter argues that missile defense traditionally has been a contentious issue in U.S. politics, with those who believe in the capabilities and inherent benefits of missile defense arrayed against those who believe that missile defense undermines the deterrent effect of mutual assured destruction. In recent years, policymakers have become more willing to fund unproven missile defense technology as the capabilities of missile defense systems improve, Futter says. He traces the evolution of the missile defense debate in U.S. politics, including its origins during the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, and the subsequent debates on the utility of missile defense. The book’s central tenet is that domestic politics, in conjunction with gradual changes to the international system, has been critical in shaping ballistic missile defense but that this factor has been underappreciated. Futter argues that it is easier for policymakers to make the case for missile defense than for the logic of mutual assured destruction. He concludes that, despite significant political differences over missile defense in the past, the maturation of missile defense technology and recent political debates suggest that there is a growing consensus among U.S. policymakers on the utility of integrating missile defense into U.S. defense strategy, at least in a limited way.

Posted: October 16, 2013