Regional Pathways to Nuclear Nonproliferation

Wilfred Wan

A look at how a small system can make a big impact on nuclear nonproliferation

Beset by challenges new and old, the global nuclear nonproliferation regime stands at an impasse. In Regional Pathways to Nuclear Nonproliferation Wilfred Wan makes the case for a reorientation of the regime, posing an alternative conceptualization of nuclear order centered on the regional level. Drawing on an array of theoretical tools from the literatures on regionalism, security governance, and international institutions, Wan develops a framework to analyze the conditions that would allow for more robust regional nuclear cooperation.

Wan then deploys his theoretical approach to several case studies, including Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, focusing on two interrelated questions. First, what is the viability of a stronger nuclear order within the region? Second, what form would such an order most likely take? In the process, he identifies the magnitude and character of the proliferation challenge specific to each region, while considering the existing character of nuclear cooperation in the region, including in interrelated areas of safety and security.

Given patterns of regionalism in today’s world, the historical development of nuclear order in Latin America is an instructive and hopeful case, argues Wan. In that geographic area, institutions built upon a cohesive regional identity—ranging from organizations to dialogues to ad hoc arrangements—gradually became more involved across economic, environmental, and human security domains, easing interstate rivalries and providing a foundation for expansive nuclear cooperation. In light of the contemporary proliferation landscape, the establishment and strengthening of such regional nuclear orders is essential to the future of the nuclear nonproliferation regime.
Studies in Security and International Affairs

Page count: 232 pp.
2 tables
Trim size: 6 x 9


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Wilfred Wan is a researcher with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.