Nuclear Non-Proliferation

In a working paper, I examine the dynamics of proliferation within alliances using new sources on the Sino-Soviet relationship. Scholars have drawn attention to the reluctance of the United States and Soviet Union to allow their allies to acquire nuclear weapons. They have also shown that those allies pursued nuclear weapons because they had concerns about the credibility of superpower security guarantees. I examine Beijing's decisions to explore and pursue nuclear weapons to determine whether these findings also apply to the Sino-Soviet alliance. I find no evidence that Soviet security guarantees factored into Beijing's decision to acquire nuclear weapons. I also find that Soviet assistance played less of a role in accelerating China's nuclear weapons program than its missile and fissile material production capabilities.

Photo (above): posters promoting reforms of the Chinese military at the end of 2015.