Fall 2015

The International Politics of Nuclear Security

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-348

Moodle site: Course


Eleonora Mattiacci (Section 01)


[G] Nuclear weapons were used only once in conflict, by the U.S. against Japan during World War II. Then, why do countries such as North Korea and Iran decide to spend countless time and resources to acquire nuclear weapons, even at the cost of multiple sanctions and international isolation? And why do countries such as the United States with vastly superior conventional military capabilities vow to stop them with all the means at their disposal? This class will address these fundamental questions surrounding the role of nuclear weapons in international politics. The class will use multiple learning techniques to explore the three fundamental components of this international question. First, the class will delve into the motivations of the states that pursue nuclear weapons and the challenges they face, investigating their standing in the international system, their domestic politics, as well as their history and their aspirations. The class will then explore the reasons why some members of the international community mobilize to stop other countries from acquiring these weapons. Finally, the class will inspect the international negotiations (those that took place during the Cold War and the more recent ones) to halt the spread of nuclear weapons in the international arena: when they fail, when they succeed, and why. The aim of the class is to wrestle with the fundamental contradiction between the efforts of nuclear weapons countries to stop others from acquiring nuclear weapons, and those very same nuclear weapons countries’ refusal to completely give up their own nuclear weapons.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Mattiacci.

If Overenrolled: Preference will be given to political science majors.


Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015