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PIED3408 Nuclear Weapons and Global Politics

Nuclear Weapons and Global Politics, 2021/22, Semester 2
Dr Laura Considine
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Module Reading List PIED3408

There is no core book for the module, but these are all useful and interesting readings to start with.

Lawrence Freedman. The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy.Palgrave 1981 (New edition 2003)  

An excellent introduction to the development of nuclear strategy – a must read for any work on nuclear strategy

Michael Quinlan. Thinking About Nuclear Weapons: Principles, Problems, Prospects. Oxford Online Scholarship, 2009.  

A useful online introduction to concepts, you can access through the library.

Andrew Futter. The Politics of Nuclear Weapons.London: Sage, 2015.  

A clear and helpful handbook with a range of further readings for each topic

Shampa Biswas. Nuclear Desire, Power and the Postcolonial Nuclear Order.University of Minnesota Press, 2015.  

A great postcolonial critique of nuclear power structures

John Hershey, Hiroshima, The New YorkerAugust 31, 1946

An account of the aftermath of the bombing. A must read for anyone speaking of nuclear use.

Bernard Brodie (Ed). The Absolute Weapon: Atomic Power and World Order.New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1946.   

The key early text on nuclear strategy from an influential figure.

Richard Rhodes. The Making of the Atomic Bomb.New York: Simon and Schuster 1986.  

A comprehensive history of the US development of nuclear weapons.

Week One: Introduction to the module and to studying nuclear weapons: Who has these weapons and why?

Seminar topics:

  • This seminar will introduce you to the module, learning objectives and requirements. I will go over the assessment and course structure.
  • Are nuclear weapons different and if so how?
  • The relevance of nuclear weapons in the 21st century – do you believe in the ‘nuclear revolution’?

Required Reading:

Andrew Futter, The Politics of Nuclear Weapons, London: Sage, 2015. Chapter 1

Campbell Craig & S.M. Amadae (2021): The myth of the nuclear revolution: Power politics in the atomic age, Journal of Strategic Studies, DOI:10.1080/01402390.2021.1930534  

Further Reading:

On proliferation:

Scott Sagan, ‘Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons? Three Models in Search of a Bomb’, International Security, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Winter, 1996-1997), pp. 54-86. 

 Tanya Ogilvie‐White (1996) Is there a theory of nuclear proliferation? An analysis of the contemporary debate, The Nonproliferation Review, 4:1, 43-60.

Sagan, Scott D. and Kenneth Waltz. 2013. The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: An Enduring Debate 3rd Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Maria Rost Rublee. Nonproliferation Norms: Why States Choose Nuclear Restraint.University of Georgia Press, 2009.

Jacques Hymans, The Psychology of Nuclear Proliferation Identity, Emotions and Foreign Policy. Cambridge University Press

William C. Potter and Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova. 2008. ‘Divining Nuclear Intentions: A Review Essay’. International Security, Vol 33: 1.

Pelopidas B (2011) The oracles of proliferation: How experts maintain a biased historical reading that limits policy innovation. Nonproliferation Review 18(1): 297–314.

David Mutimer (1998). Reconstituting Security? The Practices of Proliferation Control. European Journal of International Relations, 4(1), 99–129.

David Mutimer. Reimagining Security: The Metaphors of Proliferation. YCISS Occasional Paper Number 25, August 1994 (available online)

Thomas E. Doyle. The Ethics of Nuclear Weapons Dissemination: Moral Dilemmas of Aspiration, Avoidance and Prevention. London and New York: Routledge 2015.

Sheila Jasanoff and Sang-Hyun Kim (2009) ‘Containing the Atom: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and Nuclear Power in the United States and South Korea’. Minerva June 2009, 47:119

On the nuclear revolution:

Robert Jervis. The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution: Statecraft and the Prospect of Armageddon. Cornell Studies in Security Affairs 1990.   

Hans Morgenthau, Death in the Nuclear Age, Commentary Magazine, September 1961. Available here: 

John Herz (1959) International Politics in the Atomic Age. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.    

John Mueller, ‘The Essential Irrelevance of Nuclear Weapons: Stability in the Post-war World’ International Security, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Fall, 1988), pp. 55-79.

John Mueller. ‘The Escalating Irrelevance of Nuclear Weapons’ in Paul, Harknett & Wirtz (eds). The Absolute Weapon Revisited, Nuclear Arms and the Emerging International Order. University of Michigan Press, 2000. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva  

Robert Jervis, Why Nuclear Superiority Doesn't Matter. Political Science Quarterly Vol. 94, No. 4 (Winter, 1979-1980), pp. 617-633

Rauchhaus R. Evaluating the Nuclear Peace Hypothesis: A Quantitative Approach. Journal of Conflict Resolution. 2009;53(2):258-277. doi:10.1177/0022002708330387

The Acheson Lilienthal Report:

Dexter Masters and Katharine Way (eds) One World or None: A Report to the Public on the Full Meaning of the Atomic Bomb, The New Press, 1946

Week Two: Deterrence, Strategy and Mutually Assured Destruction. Case study: The United States and the Soviet Union/Russia

Seminar topics:

  • What is the logic of deterrence and does it have weaknesses?
  • What are the different forms of nuclear deterrence, posture and doctrine?
  • What are the dilemmas of deterrence today?

Required Reading:

Andrew Futter, The Politics of Nuclear Weapons, London: Sage, 2015. Chapter 4

CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues Video, Deterrence 101 Module 2 - Theories of Nuclear Use:

Sahay, 2020. War on the Rocks Podcast, The Dilemmas of Deterrence;

Further reading:

Michael Quinlan. Thinking About Nuclear Weapons: Principles, Problems, Prospects. Oxford Online Scholarship, 2009. Chapter on deterrence. Available as e-book in library.    

Thomas Schelling and Morton Halperin, Strategy and arms control, Part One, Chapter One, 1985 Washington : Pergamon-Brassey's  Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

Andrew Futter, The Politics of Nuclear Weapons, London: Sage, 2015. Chapter 4.  Available online 

- Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein, Deterrence and the Cold War  

Political Science Quarterly Vol. 110, No. 2 (Summer, 1995), pp. 157-181.

Krepon, M (2010) The Stability-Instability Paradox, Arms Control Wonk.

Bernard Brodie (Ed). The Absolute Weapon: Atomic Power and World Order. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1946.

Thomas C. Schelling and Morton H. Halperin, Strategy and Arms Control. New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1961

Thomas Schelling. Arms and Influence. Yale University Press. 1966.

Bernard Brodie et al. Strategy in the missile age. 1959. Available as pdf at:

Lawrence Freedman. The evolution of nuclear strategy. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan: 2003

Herman Kahn. On Thermonuclear War. 1960

David S. Yost. Assurance and US Extended Deterrence in NATO. International Affairs Vol. 85, No. 4 2009.

Colin S. Gray and Keith Payne. Victory Is Possible. Foreign Policy No. 39 (Summer, 1980), pp. 14-27.

Michael E. Howard, On Fighting a Nuclear War. International Security. Vol. 5, No. 4 (Spring, 1981), pp. 3-17

Benoît. Pelopidas, 2017. “The Unbearable Lightness of Luck. Three Sources of Overconfidence in the Manageability of Nuclear Crises.” European Journal of International Security 2 (2): 240-262.

Marianne Hanson (2002) Nuclear weapons as obstacles to international security. International Relations 16(3): 361–379.

Ward Wilson, The Myth of Nuclear Deterrence, Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 15, No. 3, November 2008

Campbell Craig and Sergey Radchenko, The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War.Yale University Press, 2008.

Raymond Garthoff Détente and Confrontation, American Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan. Washington: The Brookings Institution, 1985.

Raymond Garthoff. The Great Transition American Soviet Relations and the end of the Cold War. Brookings Institution, 1994.

Week Three: Nuclear Weapons and Multipoliarity

Seminar topics:

  • What are the implications of multiple states having nuclear weapons?
  • What is the future of the US/China nuclear relationship?
  • What role do nuclear weapons play in South Asia?

Required Reading:

  • Paul Kapur, ‘India and Pakistan’s unstable peace: Why nuclear South Asia is not like Cold War Europe’, International Security, 30:2 (2005) pp.127–152.  
  • Fiona S. Cunningham (2021) Cooperation under Asymmetry? The Future of US/China Nuclear Relations, The Washington Quarterly, 44:2, 159-180, DOI: 10.1080/0163660X.2021.1934253

Further Reading:

Tong Zhao (2021) China and the international debate on no first use of nuclear weapons, Asian Security, DOI: 10.1080/14799855.2021.2015654

- Maria Rost Rublee, ‘Nuclear Deterrence Destabilized’, in Perspectives on Nuclear Deterrence in the 21st Century, Chatham House Research Paper. Feel free to read more of this useful paper but if you don’t have the time just read the Rublee section – it is only five pages.

- For reference: Mills, C (2020) House of Commons Library Briefing Paper Number 9070, 7 December 2020, Nuclear weapons at a glance: India and Pakistan.

- Itty Abraham, ‘Introduction’ in South Asian Cultures of the Bomb: Atomic Publics and the State in India and Pakistan Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2009.  

- Catherine Collins And Douglas Frantz, ‘The Long Shadow of A.Q. Khan, How One Scientist Helped the World Go Nuclear’, Foreign Affairs 31 January 2018. 

Sumit Ganguly (1995) Indo‐Pakistani Nuclear issues and the stability/instability paradox, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 18:4, 325-334,

Scott Sagan (ed.) Inside Nuclear South Asia. Stanford University Press, 2009.  

Paul Bracken. The second nuclear age: strategy, danger and the new power politics. New York, St Martin’s Press: 2013.

Samina Ahmed. Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Program: Turning Points and Nuclear Choices International Security. Vol. 23, No. 4 (Spring, 1999), pp. 178-204

Priya Chacko and Alexander E Davis. 2018. “Resignifying “responsibility”: India, exceptionalism and nuclear non-proliferation.” Asian Journal of Political Science 26 (3): 352-370.

Bhumitra Chakma. The Politics of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia. Farnham: Ashgate, 2011.

Sumit Ganguly and S. Paul Kapur (eds.) Nuclear proliferation in South Asia: crisis behaviour and the bomb. Abingdon, Routledge: 2010

Sumit Ganguly and S. Paul Kapur. India, Pakistan, and the Bomb, Debating Nuclear Stability in South Asia. Columbia University Press, 2012

Harsh Pant The US-India nuclear pact. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Narlikar, Amrita. 2011. “Is India a responsible great power?” Third World Quarterly 32 (9): 1607–1621.

Nicholas J. Wheeler. 2010. “I Had Gone to Lahore With a Message of Goodwill But in Return We Got Kargil”: The Promise and Perils of “Leaps of Trust” in India-Pakistan Relations, India Review, I9:3, 319-344,

Gaurav Kampani (2002) Second tier proliferation: The case of Pakistan and North Korea, The Nonproliferation Review, 9:3, 107-116

Vinod Kumar. India and the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Feroz Hassan Khan. Eating grass: the making of the Pakistani bomb. Stanford CA,Stanford University Press: 2012.

Priya and Alexander E Davis. 2018. “Resignifying “responsibility”: India, exceptionalism and nuclear non-proliferation.” Asian Journal of Political Science 26 (3): 352-370.

Walker, William and Wheeler, Nicholas J. 2013. “The Problem of Weak Nuclear States.” The Nonproliferation Review 20 (3): 411-431.

Sasikumar, Karthika. 2007. “India's Emergence as a "Responsible" Nuclear Power.” International Journal 62 (4): 825-844.

Week Four: Contemporary Nuclear Issues: Iran and North Korea, arms control and new technologies

Seminar topics:

  • What are the main dangers and risks from nuclear weapons today?
  • What is the future for nuclear politics – new technology, changing strategy, disarmament.
  • Are the traditional ways of managing nuclear weapons still relevant?

Required Reading:

  • Introduction and Chapter Four, John Borrie ‘Nuclear Risk and the Technological Domain: A Three-Step Approach’ Nuclear Risk Reduction, Closing Pathways to Use, UNIDIR 2020.

  • House of Lords Select Committee on International Relations 7th Report of Session 2017–19 HL Paper 338 Rising nuclear risk, disarmament and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Summary and Chapter 2

Further Reading:

Ernest J. Moniz And Sam Nunn: The Return of Doomsday: The New Nuclear Arms Race—and How Washington and Moscow Can Stop It. Foreign Affairs September/October 2019.  Available at

Arms Control Association 2018 Fact Sheet, The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) at a Glance

Samore, Gary et al. 2015. The Iran Nuclear Deal: A Definitive Guide. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School.

Mark Fitzpatrick (2015) Iran: A Good Deal, Survival, 57:5, 47-52,

Ariane Tabatabai (2017) Negotiating the “Iran talks” in Tehran: the Iranian drivers that shaped the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, The Nonproliferation Review, 24:3-4, 225-242,

Nuclear Threat Initiative North Korea Nuclear Weapons Country overview available:

Nuclear Threat Initiative, A timeline of North Korea and Nuclear Negotiations available:

Arms Control Association: Chronology of US North Korean Nuclear Diplomacy. Available:

Amelia Morgan, and Heather Williams. June 2018. A New Framework to Assess U.S. and Russian Behaviour Euro-Atlantic Policy Brief. The European Leadership Network. Available:

Patricia Lewis, Heather Williams, Benoît Pelopidas and Sasan Aghlani. 2014. Too Close for Comfort: Cases of Near Nuclear Use and Options for Policy. Chatham House Report. Available:  

Sarah Bidgood (2018) US–Russia relations and the future of arms control: how the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty could restore engagement on nuclear issues, The Nonproliferation Review,25:3-4, 307-318,

Shahryar Pasandideh (2019) The end of the “INF Treaty” and the US-China military balance, The Nonproliferation Review, DOI: 10.1080/10736700.2019.1646466

Paul Bracken, The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger and the New Power Politics. New York: Times Books, 2012. Chapter 4 – The New Logic of Armageddon.

Andrew Futter. Ballistic Missile Defence and US National Security: Normalisation and Acceptance after the Cold War (New York & Basingstoke, Routledge: 2013.

Graham Allison. 2010. Nuclear Disorder: Surveying Atomic Threats Foreign Affairs, Vol. 89, No. 1 (January/February 2010), pp. 74-85

Andrew Futter. Hacking the Bomb: Cyber Threats and Nuclear Weapons (Georgetown University Press, 2018.

Pavel Sharikov (2018) Artificial intelligence, cyberattack, and nuclear weapons—A dangerous combination, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 74:6, 368-373, DOI: 10.1080/00963402.2018.1533185

Lieber, K. A., & Press, D. G. (2017). The new era of counterforce: Technological change and the future of nuclear deterrence. International Security, 41(4), 9–49.

Niklas Schörnig. 2019. Unmanned Systems: The Robotic Revolution as a Challenge for Arms Control. Information Technology for Peace and Security, pages 233-256.

Matthijs Maas (2019) How viable is international arms control for military artificial intelligence? Three lessons from nuclear weapons, Contemporary Security Policy, 40:3, 285-311.

Kroenig, M., & Gopalaswamy, B. (2018, November 12). Will disruptive technology cause nuclear war? Retrieved from disruptive-technology-cause-nuclear-war/

Scherer, M. U. (2016). Regulating artificial intelligence systems: Risks, challenges, competencies, and strategies. Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, (2).

Week Five: Nuclear Weapons and domestic politics. Case Study: The United Kingdom

Seminar topics:

  • How have UK domestic politics affected nuclear policy and strategy?
  • How do nuclear weapons affect domestic structures?
  • Can you have a nuclear democracy?

Required Reading:

- Nick Ritchie and Benoit Pelopidas, European Nuclear Nationalism: The UK and France. In Global Nuclear Disarmament. Routledge 2015. PDF at:  

- Oliver Meier & Maren Vieluf (2021) Upsetting the nuclear order: how the rise of nationalist populism increases nuclear dangers, The Nonproliferation Review, DOI: 10.1080/10736700.2020.1864932

- Tom Plant and Dr Matthew Harries, Going Ballistic: The UK’s Proposed Nuclear Build-up, 16 March 2021:

 And this associated video from the authors if you like (not required): 

Further Readings:

The UK and Nuclear Weapons

Ministry of Defence. The United Kingdom’s Future Nuclear Deterrent: 2018 Update to Parliament. Available at:

Malcolm Chalmers. 'Bombs Away'? Britain and Nuclear Weapons under New Labour. Security Dialogue Vol. 30, No. 1 (1999), pp. 61-7.

Duncanson, Claire and Catherine Eschle. 2008. “Gender and the Nuclear Weapons State: A Feminist Critique of the UK Government's White Paper on Trident.” New Political Science 30 (4): 545-563.

William Walker, Trident’s replacement and the survival of the United Kingdom, Survival. 57, 5, p. 7-28

Nick Ritchie. 2009. Deterrence Dogma? Challenging the Relevance of British Nuclear Weapons. International Affairs. Vol. 85, No. 1, 2009, pp. 81-98. 

Nick Ritchie (2016) Nuclear identities and Scottish independence, The Nonproliferation Review, 23:5-6, 653-675.

Michael McGwire. 2006 'Comfort blanket or weapon of war: What is Trident for?' International Affairs 82: 4, pp. 639-50

Len Scott (2007) Labour and the Bomb: The First 80 Years. International Affairs. Vol. 82, No. 4 pp. 685-700.

Jonathan Hogg, and C Laucht. (2012). Introduction: British nuclear culture. The British Journal for the History of Science, 45(4), 479-493.

Peter Hennessy, Cabinets and the bomb. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Nick Ritchie 2010. Relinquishing nuclear weapons: identities, networks and the British bomb. International Affairs Vol. 86, No.2 pp. 465-487.

Walker, William. 2010. “The UK, Threshold Status and Responsible Nuclear Sovereignty.” International Affairs 86 (2): 447-464.

Frank Barnaby and Douglas Holdstock (eds.) The British Nuclear Weapons Programme 1952–2002. London: Cass, 2003.

Nuclear weapons, ethics and democracy

- Thomas E. Doyle II (2013) Liberal democracy and nuclear despotism: two ethical foreign policy dilemmas, Ethics & Global Politics, 6:3, 155-174,  

Henry Shue. Liberalism: The Impossibility of Justifying Weapons of Mass Destruction. In S. Hashmi & S. Lee (Eds.), Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Religious and Secular Perspectives (pp. 139-162). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2004.    

Elaine Scarry. 2014. Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company.   

Walzer, Michael. 2004. “A Liberal Perspective on Deterrence and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.” In Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Religious and Secular Perspectives, edited by Sohail Hashmi and Steven Lee, 163-167. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.    

Deudney, Daniel. 1995. “Political Fission: State Structure, Civil Society and Nuclear Weapons in the United States.” In On Security, edited by RonnieLipschutz, 87-124. New York, Chichester: Columbia University Press.   Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

Sarah Bidgood (2019) Undergraduate disarmament and nonproliferation education: gaps, opportunities, and new approaches, The Nonproliferation Review, DOI: 10.1080/10736700.2019.1646470


Week Seven: Global Governance of Nuclear Weapons: Norms, Institutions and Treaties: Case Study: The NPT

Seminar topics:

  • The NPT and the Non-Proliferation regime
  • The nuclear taboo – how powerful are norms in nuclear politics?
  • What type of governance is possible for nuclear weapons in the 21st Century?

Required Reading:

  • Nina Tannenwald (1999) The Nuclear Taboo: The United States and the Normative Basis of Nuclear Non-Use. International Organization, Vol. 53, No. 3 pp. 433-468.  
  • William C. Potter (2010) The NPT & the Sources of Nuclear Restraint Daedalus, Vol. 139:1 On the Global Nuclear Future, Vol. 2, pp. 68-81.  

Further Reading:

- Nina Tannenwald, Life beyond Arms Control: Moving toward a Global Regime of Nuclear Restraint & Responsibility, Daedalus Spring 2020. Available: There are several useful articles in this volume of Daedalus if you want to read more.

- Williams Walker, Nuclear Order and Disorder, International Affairs, Vol. 76, No. 4 (Oct., 2000), pp. 703-724.

- The NPT Briefing Book 2019 – Comprehensive source of primary documents about the nuclear treaties and institutions the NPT and the RevCon in 2020, available:

William Walker. A Perpetual Menace: Nuclear Weapons and International Order. Routledge 2011.

Nick Ritchie (2019) A hegemonic nuclear order: Understanding the Ban Treaty and the power politics of nuclear weapons, Contemporary Security Policy, DOI: 10.1080/13523260.2019.1571852

Maria Rost Rublee & Avner Cohen (2018) Nuclear norms in global governance: A progressive research agenda, Contemporary Security Policy, 39:3, 317-340.

Nina Tannenwald, The Nuclear Taboo: The United States and the Non-Use of Nuclear Weapons since 1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

Lawrence Freedman, ‘Disarmament and Other Nuclear Norms’, The Washington Quarterly 36:2, 2013, pp. 93-108.

Jeffrey W. Knopf, ‘After Diffusion: Challenges to enforcing nonproliferation and disarmament norms’, Contemporary Security Policy, 39: 3, 2018, pp. 367-398

Harald Müller and Carmen Wunderlich, “Not lost in contestation: How norm entrepreneurs frame norm development in the nuclear nonproliferation regime.” Contemporary Security Policy, 2018,

William C. Potter (2016) The Unfulfilled Promise of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, Survival, 58:1, 151-178,

Harald Müller (2017) The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in Jeopardy? Internal Divisions and the Impact of World Politics, The International Spectator, 52:1, 12-27,

Mario E. Carranza (2006) Can the NPT Survive? The Theory and Practice of US Nuclear Non-proliferation Policy after September 11, Contemporary Security Policy, 27:3

Nina Rathbun. (2006) The role of legitimacy in strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime. The Nonproliferation Review, 13:2, 227-252

Jan Ruzicka and Nicholas J. Wheler (2010) The puzzle of trusting relationships in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, International Affairs 86: 1, 69–85.

Harald Müller (2011) A Nuclear Nonproliferation Test, The Nonproliferation Review, 18:1, 219-236.

Matthew Fuhrmann, Yonatan Lupu, Do Arms Control Treaties Work? Assessing the Effectiveness of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, International Studies Quarterly, Volume 60, Issue 3, September 2016, Pages 530–539,

Cotta-Ramusino P. (2018) Status of Nuclear Non-proliferation. In: Maiani L., Abousahl S., Plastino W. (eds) International Cooperation for Enhancing Nuclear Safety, Security, Safeguards and Non-proliferation–60 Years of IAEA and EURATOM. Springer Proceedings in Physics, vol 206. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

Nina Tannenwald (2013) Justice and fairness in the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Ethics & International Affairs 27(3): 299–317.

Harold Müller, 2010. “Between Power and Justice: Current Problems and Perspectives of the NPT Regime.” Strategic Analysis 34 (2): 189-201.

William C. Potter (2016) The Unfulfilled Promise of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, Survival, 58:1, 151-178

Campbell Craig and Jan Ruzicka (2012) Who’s in, who’s out? London Review of Books 34(4): 37–38.

Campbell Craig and Jan Ruzicka (2013) The nonproliferation complex. Ethics & International Affairs 27(3): 329–348.

Leveringhaus, Nicola and Kate Sullivan De Estrada. 2018. “Between conformity and innovation: China’s and India’s quest for status as responsible nuclear powers.” Review of International Studies 44 (3): 482-503.

Nick Ritchie, ‘Valuing and Devaluing Nuclear Weapons’, Contemporary Security Policy, 34:1, 2013, pp. 146-173

Zia Mian (2016) A step toward what? Nuclear weapons, the test ban, and a world without nuclear testing, The Nonproliferation Review, 23:3-4, 301-315.

Week Eight: Protest and, anti-weapons movements and disarmament. Case Study: The TPNW  

 Seminar topics:

  • Can activism make a difference in global nuclear politics?
  • What is the potential power of the TPNW and can it be successful?

Required Reading:

  • Rebecca Davis Gibbons (2018) The humanitarian turn in nuclear disarmament and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, The Nonproliferation Review, 25:1-2, 11-36.  
  • Nick Ritchie (2019) A hegemonic nuclear order: Understanding the Ban Treaty and the power politics of nuclear weapons, Contemporary Security Policy, 40:4.  
  • Heather Williams, What the Nuclear ban Treaty Means for America’s Allies, War on the Rocks, November 2020

 Further Reading:

Laura Considine (2019) Contests of Legitimacy and Value - The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Logic of Prohibition, International Affairs, online first.

John Borrie (2014) Humanitarian reframing of nuclear weapons and the logic of a ban. International Affairs 90(3): 625–646.  

- Scott D. Sagan and Benjamin A. Valentino ‘The nuclear weapons ban treaty: Opportunities lost’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 16 July 2017.  

Lawrence Wittner. The Struggle Against the Bomb. Stanford: Stanford University Press. A three-part history of the nuclear disarmament movement. A key text for any work on disarmament history.   

Egeland, Kjølv, ‘Banning the Bomb: Inconsequential Posturing or Meaningful Stigmatization?’, Global Governance 24, no. 1 (2018)

Catherine Eschle (2013) Gender and the Subject of (Anti)Nuclear Politics: Revisiting Women's Campaigning against the Bomb, International Studies Quarterly, Vol 57 no.4, pg. 713–724.

Ivo Daalder and Jan Lodal (2008) The Logic of Zero: Toward a World Without Nuclear Weapons. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 87, No. 6. pp. 80-95

Bruno Tertrais. 2010. The Illogic of zero. The Washington Quarterly 33: 2 pp. 125 138

Vincent J. Intondi. African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism and the Black Freedom Movement. Stanford: Stanford University Press 2015.

Jonathan Schell. The Fate of the Earth. New York: Knopf, 1982.

Nick Ritchie and Kjølv Egeland, ‘The Diplomacy of resistance: power, hegemony and nuclear disarmament’, Global Change Peace & Security

Ramesh Thakur, ‘The Nuclear Ban Treaty: Recasting a Normative Framework for Disarmament’, The Washington Quarterly 40: 4, 2017, pp. 71–95.

Tom Sauer and Joelien Pretorius, ‘Nuclear weapons and the humanitarian approach’, Global Change, Peace and Security 26: 3, 2014, pp. 233-250;

Beatrice Fihn, ‘The Logic of Banning Nuclear Weapons’, Survival 59: 1, 2017, pp. 45-50.

Heather Williams, ‘Why a Nuclear Weapons Ban is Unethical (For Now) NATO and the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons Initiative’, RUSI Journal 161: 2, 2016, pp. 38-47.

John Borrie and Tim Caughley, An Illusion of Safety Challenges of Nuclear Weapon Detonations for United Nations Humanitarian Coordination and Response’ (Geneva: UNIDIR, 2014). Available online

Matthew Bolton and Elizabeth Minor, ‘The Discursive Turn Arrives in Turtle Bay: The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ Operationalization of Critical IR Theories’, Global Policy 7: 3, 2016;

Gro Nystuen, Kjølv Egeland and Torbjørn Graff Hugo, The TPNW: Setting the record straight,Norwegian Academy of International Law, October 2018. Available at:

Thakur, Ramesh. 2016. ‘The Ethical Imperatives and Means to Nuclear Peace.” Peace Review 28(3): 288-295.

Tom Sauer & Mathias Reveraert (2018) The potential stigmatizing effect of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, The Nonproliferation Review, 25:5-6, 437-455,

Week Nine:  Nuclear Violence, race, gender, colonialism and the impacts on health and the environment 

Seminar topics:

  • What are the different forms of violence in nuclear weapons?
  • What does thinking about gender and nuclear weapons do?
  • How have nuclear politics been shaped by colonialism and ideas about ‘civilization’?

Required Reading:

  • Cohn, Carol. 1987. “Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 12 (4): 687-718.  
  • Hugh Gusterson. 1999. “Nuclear Weapons and the Other in the Western Imagination.” Cultural Anthropology14 (1): 111-143.Hugh Gusterson. 1999. “Nuclear Weapons and the Other in the Western Imagination.” Cultural Anthropology 14 (1): 111-143.  
  • Lovely Umayam, How will We Save Ourselves? An Essay on Racism and Accountability in the Nuclear Policy Field, 2020. Will be distributed by email – See the website here:

Further Reading:

Shampa Biswas, Nuclear Desire. Power and the Postcolonial Nuclear Order (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014).

Patrick Cottrell. 2017. Confronting the nuclear paradox. Energy Research & Social Science 24 pp 6–11.  

Arundhati Roy (1998) The End Of Imagination. Outlook Magazine 1998. Available at:

Unal, B., P. Lewis and S. Aghlani. 2017. “The Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Testing Regional Responses and Mitigation Measures.” Chatham House Research Paper.  

Matthew Bolton. The Devastating Legacy of British and American Nuclear Testing at Kiritimati (Christmas) and Malden Islands. Just Security. May 2018. Available at:

Tilman A. Ruff, 2015. “The Humanitarian Impact and Implications of Nuclear Test Explosions in the Pacific Region.” International Review of the Red Cross 97 (899): 775–813.

Itty Abraham. 2016. "What (Really) makes a Country Nuclear? Insights from non-nuclear Southeast Asia," Critical Studies on Security, vol 4, no. 1.

Anne Harrington de Santana, ‘Nuclear Weapons as the Currency of Power’, The Nonproliferation Review, 16:3, 2009, pp. 325-345;

Gabrielle Hecht, Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014).  

Gabrielle Hecht. 2010. ‘The Power of Nuclear Things’, Technology and Culture 51: 1.

Gabrielle Hecht. 2006. ‘Nuclear Ontologies’, Constellations 13: 3, pp. 320-331.

Jaswant Singh, ‘Against nuclear apartheid’, Foreign Affairs, 77:5 (1998)

Shane Maddock, ‘Nuclear Apartheid: the quest for American atomic supremacy from World War II to the present’, (Chapel Hill, NC, University of North Carolina Press: 2010)

Itty Abraham. 2018. "Decolonizing Arms Control: The AALCC and the legality of nuclear testing," Asian Journal of Political Science, 26, 3: 314-330

Carol Cohn. “The Perils of Mixing Masculinity and Missiles,” New York Times, January 5, 2017.

Carol Cohn and Sara Ruddick. “A Feminist Ethical Perspective on Weapons of Mass Destruction,” In Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Religious and Secular Perspectives, eds. Sohail H. Hashmi and Steven P. Lee (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Himadeep Muppidi. 2005. “Colonial and Postcolonial Global Governance.” In Power in Global Governance, edited by Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Catherine Eschle, (2013), Gender and the Subject of (Anti)Nuclear Politics: Revisiting Women‘s Campaigning against the Bomb. International Studies Quarterly, 57: 713–724.

Runa Das. 2003. Postcolonial (In)Securities, the BJP and the Politics of Hindutva: Broadening the Security Paradigm between the Realist and Anti-Nuclear/Peace Groups in India. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 1 pp. 77-96

Week Ten: Nuclear language, memory and popular culture

Seminar topics:

  • What does it mean to live in the ‘nuclear age’?
  • How have nuclear technologies shaped broader culture and society?
  • How does the language of nuclear weapons shape their politics?

Required Reading:

  • Laura Considine, Cornerstones and Fire from the Gods: The Role of Language in Nuclear Disarmament, Brown Journal of World Affairs, Fall/Winter 2020. Forthcoming (To be distriubuted by me).
  • Kjølv Egeland, ‘Who stole disarmament? History and nostalgia in nuclear abolition discourse’, International Affairs 96, no. 5

Further Reading:

William J Kinsella (2005) One hundred years of nuclear discourse: Four master themes and their implications for environmental communication. In: Seneca (ed.) Environmental Communication Yearbook Volume 2.

Boyer P (1985) By the Bomb’s Early light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.  

Kate Brown. Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters. Oxford University Press 2013.  

Zeman, Scott C., and Michael A. Amundson, eds. Atomic Culture: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2004.    

Dixon, Wheeler Winston. Visions of the Apocalypse: Spectacles of Destruction in American Cinema. London: Wallflower Press, 2003.

Laura Considine. 2017. ‘The Standardization of Catastrophe’ Nuclear disarmament, the Humanitarian Initiative and the politics of the unthinkable. European Journal of International Relations, 23(3), 681–702.

Jacques Derrida, Porter C and Lewis P (1984) No apocalypse, not now (full speed ahead, seven missiles, seven missives), Diacritics 14(2): 20–31.

Joseph Masco. Nuclear Technoaesthetics: Sensory Politics from Trinity to the Virtual Bomb in LosAlamos. American Ethnologist, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Aug 2004), pp. 349-373

Ferguson F (1984) The nuclear sublime. Diacritics 14(2): 6–7.

Stephanie Fishel (2015) Remembering nukes: Collective memories and countering state history. Critical Military Studies 1(2): 131–144. Available at

William J Kinsella (2005) One hundred years of nuclear discourse: Four master themes and their implications for environmental communication. In: Senecah SL (ed.) Environmental Communication Yearbook Volume 2. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Schiappa E (1989) The rhetoric of nukespeak.Communication Monographs, no. 56.

Spencer Weart (2012) The Rise of Nuclear Fear.Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bryan C. Taylor (2010) A hedge against the future: The post-Cold War rhetoric of nuclear weapons modernization. Quarterly Journal of Speech 96(1): 1–24.

Bryan C Taylor, Kinsella WJ, Depoe SP et al. (eds) Nuclear Legacies: Communication, Controversy and the US Nuclear Weapons Complex.Lanham, MD: Lexington Books 2008.

Martin Senn and Elhardt C (2013) Bourdieu and the bomb: Power, language and the doxic battle over the value of nuclear weapons. European Journal of International Relations 20(2): 316–340.

Schwenger, P. (1986) Writing the unthinkable. Critical Inquiry 13(1): 33–48.

Paul Chilton, Language and the Nuclear Arms Debate: Nukespeak Today. London:

Frances Pinter 1985/ R Mariner and G Piehler (eds). The Atomic Bomb and American SocietyKnoxville: University off Tennessee Press 2009

Margot A. Henrikson,Dr. Strangelove's America: Society and Culture in the Atomic Age. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997.

Ferenc Morton Szasz, Atomic Comics: Cartoonists Confront the Nuclear World. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press, 2012.

Tsutsui, William. Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters.New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Shaw, Tony, British Cinema and the Cold War: The State, Propaganda and Consensus, London: I.B. Tauris, 2001.

Week Eleven: Lecture: Nuclear deterrence and nuclear disarmament – What will the next 75 years hold?

Seminar topics:

  • What are the arguments for deterrence and disarmament?
  • What do you think is the best way to manage the existence of nuclear weapons in the world?
  • What are the limits/assumptions of the terms of this debate?

Required Reading:

Not required but mentioned in the Schelling article and part of the public debate at that time – will put on Minerva:

  • Shultz, Perry, Kissinger, Nunn, 2007, Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, ‘A World Free of Nuclear Weapons’.
  • Brown and Deutch, 2007, Wall Street Journal Commentary, ‘The Nuclear Disarmament Fantasy.

This list was last updated on 21/12/2021