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International platform for disarmament and non-proliferation dialogue, research, and education

Nuclear Proliferation History: New Evidence, Analysis & Policy Insights

Meeting  •  1 February 2012
VCDNP hosted a meeting organized by the Center for Security Studies for the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project.
Posted: 12 February 2013 • Updated: 19 February 2013

On 1 February, 2013, the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) hosted a meeting "Nuclear Proliferation History: New Evidence, Analysis & Policy Insights," organized by the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich for the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project (NPIHP), a global network of individuals and institutions engaged in the study of international nuclear history.

This meeting underlined the importance of conducting research on nuclear proliferation history. New evidence can help understand the reasons why states launch nuclear weapons programs and, equally important, why some states terminate such programs. Insights generated by research in nuclear history can assist in strengthening the international nonproliferation regime.

Participants presented new research on less-examined aspects of nuclear history, based on research in archives, on interviews, as well as on other new sources. The following scholars delivered presentations on specific country cases: Brazil (Matias Spektor, Getulio Vargas Foundation, Rio de Janeiro), India (Kapil Patil, Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, New Delhi), South Africa (Anna-Mart van Wyk and Rene Geyer, Monash University, South Africa Campus), China (Yafeng Xia, Long Island University, New York), Australia (Christine Leah, Australian National University, Canberra) and Italy (Leopoldo Nuti, Rome Tre University). Elisabeth Röhrlich of the University of Vienna delivered a report on the archival sources pertaining to the history of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Several experts discussed the state of research on nuclear history in their presentations, including William Burr (National Security Archive, Washington, DC), Itty Abraham (National University of Singapore), and Martin Sherwin (George Mason University/Tufts University).

Finally, Francis Gavin (Robert S. Strauss Center, University of Texas-Austin), Nick Wheeler (Birmingham University) and Tariq Rauf (Global Nuclear Solutions, Vienna) discussed the potential impact of in-depth and accurate knowledge of nuclear history on policy decisions and political process.

Francis Gavin, William Potter (Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies), Christian Ostermann (Wilson Center), and Nikolai Sokov (Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation).