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With the end of the Cold War, nuclear non-proliferation has emerged as a central issue in international security relations. While most existing works on nuclear proliferation deal with the question of nuclear acquisition, T.V. Paul explains why some states have decided to forswear nuclear weapons even when they have the technological capability or potential capability to develop them, and why some states already in possession of nuclear arms choose to dismantle them.
In Power versus Prudence Paul develops a prudential-realist model, arguing that a nation's national nuclear choices depend on specific regional security contexts: the non-great power states most likely to forgo nuclear weapons are those in zones of low and moderate conflict, while nations likely to acquire such capability tend to be in zones of high conflict and engaged in protracted conflicts and enduring rivalries. He demonstrates that the choice to forbear acquiring nuclear weapons is also a function of the extent of security interdependence that states experience with other states, both allies and adversaries. He applies the comparative case study method to pairs of states with similar characteristics - Germany/Japan, Canada/Australia, Sweden/Switzerland, Argentina/Brazil - in addition to analysing the nuclear choices of South Africa, Ukraine, South Korea, India, Pakistan, and Israel. Paul concludes by questioning some of the prevailing supply side approaches to non-proliferation, offering an explication of the security variable by linking nuclear proliferation with protracted conflicts and enduring rivalries. Power versus Prudence will be of interest to students of international relations, policy-makers, policy analysts, and the informed public concerned with the questions of nuclear weapons, non-proliferation, and disarmament.