This paper proposes an unusual and more sanguine view of the problem of nuclear proliferation. Dr Kincade points out that the pace of nuclear weapons testing and deployment has slowed in recent decades, while there has concurrently been an increase in the availability of nuclear knowledge. While non-proliferation efforts by the supplier states may explain part of this success, he postulates that domestic political decisions by potential proliferators play an equal or greater role. Deciding whether or not to weaponize and deploy a nuclear capability is certainly not the first step for a state wishing to achieve nuclear status, but it may be the most important. Here a number of domestic factors come into play that have little to do with international constraints or concerns about prestige: economics, internal politics, government learning, generational change, and so on. Kincade's findings are counterintuitive in the proliferation literature, and, if true, suggest that the problem cannot be dealt with solely using traditional means. Dr Kincade's thesis merits careful consideration by those involved in the proliferation debate as well as those in the policy making community.
INSS Occasional Paper 6, Proliferation Series