Decision-making Analysis in the Nuclear Age

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Ikegami Masako 
Tue7-8(W9-707AV Seminar Room)  
Lecture2  Exercise0  Experiment0
Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
Fall Semester

Outline of lecture

This course is designed to introduce the historical case studies of critical decision-making over the development and use of nuclear weapons and technology. Main topics include: the Manhattan Project, atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Cuban missile crisis, nuclear arms race during the Cold War, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation, North Korean and Iranian nuclear crises, missile defence, arms control & nuclear non-proliferation, and nuclear energy. Some policy issues, such as nuclear arms control and disarmament, nuclear deterrence, nuclear diplomacy and nuclear energy, are also included.

Purpose of lecture

Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to:
窶「 acquire the basic concepts and understanding of the topics covered in this course thorough literature reading;
窶「 develop capabilities of analyzing the historical and current cases of critical decision-making over the development and use of nuclear technology;
窶「 demonstrate capabilities of discussing the complexity of specific nuclear policy issues through critical thinking and essay work.

Plan of lecture

Class 1 Introduction
Class 2 The Manhattan Project: Developing the Atomic bomb
Class 3 Decision-making of the use of the Atomic bomb
Class 4 Origins of the Cold War and initial nuclear proliferation
Class 5 The Cuban Missile Crisis
Class 6 Nuclear arms race, doctrine and strategy
Class 7 Nuclear deterrence theory
Class 8 窶連toms for Peace窶: Peaceful use of atomic energy
Class 9 Dテゥtente and arms control during the Cold War
Class 10 The Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) and missile defence
Class 11 The end of the Cold War: the INF Treaty
Class 12 Post-Cold War nuclear disarmament
Class 13 Post-Cold War nuclear proliferation
Class 14 窶連 world without nuclear weapons窶 or 窶蕨uclear anarchy窶?
Class 15 Final paper due and final presentations

Textbook and reference

Alperovitz, Gar (1996). The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, Vintage Books (selected pages).
Alperovitz, Gar (1995). 窶路iroshima: Historians Reassess窶, Foreign Policy (Summer 1995) No. 99: 15-34.
Barton J. Bernstein (1995). 窶狼he Atomic Bombings Reconsidered窶, Foreign Affairs. 74(1) January/February, pp. 135窶152.
Barton J. Bernstein (1986). 窶連 Postwar Myth: 500,000 U.S. lives saved窶, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (June-July 1986), pp. 3-8.
Allison, Graham and Zelikow, Philip (1999). Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, New York: Longman, (selected pages).
Schelling, Thomas (1966). Arms and Influence, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, (selected pages)
George, A. L. & R. Smoke (1974). Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice, New York: Columbia University Press (selected pages)
Robert Jervis, 窶狼he Utility of Nuclear Deterrence窶, International Security 13: 2 (Fall 1988).
Henry Kissinger (1957). Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, New York: Harper and Brothers (selected pages).
Kennan, George F. (1982). The Nuclear Delusion: Soviet-American Relations in the Atomic Age, New York: Pantheon Books, (selected pages).
Richard Smoke (1992). National Security and The Nuclear Dilemma: An Introduction to the American Experience in the Cold War [3rd edition], McGraw-Hill (selected pages).
Scott Sagan & Kenneth Waltz (1995). The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed, New York: W.W. Norton (selected pages)
Kenneth N. Waltz (1981). The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More may be Better, Adelphi Paper No. 171, London: International Institute of Strategic Studies.
Kenneth Waltz, 窶聾hy Iran Should Get the Bomb: Nuclear Balancing Would Mean Stability窶, Foreign Affairs, vol. 91, no. 4 (July/August 2012).
Thomas C. Reed & Danny B. Stillman (2009). The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and its Proliferation, Minneapolis: Zenith Press (selected pages).
Schelling, Thomas (2005) 窶連n Astonishing Sixty Years: The Legacy of Hiroshima窶, Nobel Prize Lecture, 8 Dec 2005 <>
Jozef Goldblat (2002). Arms Control: The New Guide to Negotiations and Agreements, Oslo: International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, (selected pages).
Allison, Graham, Carmoy De Herve & Delpech, Therese (2007). Nuclear Proliferation: Risk and Responsibility, Washington, DC: Trilateral Commission (selected pages).
Hans Born, Bates Gill and Heiner Hテ、nggi (eds) (2010). Governing the Bomb: Civilian Control and Democratic Accountability of Nuclear Weapons, SIPRI: Oxford University Press [excerpts] <>
Francis J. Gavin, 窶牢ame as it ever was: Nuclear Alarmism, Proliferation, and the Cold War窶, International Security, vol. 34, no. 3 (Winter 2009/10), pp. 7-37.
Deborah Welch Larson, 窶狼he Psychology of Nuclear Statecraft窶, Diplomatic History, volume 15, issue 3 (July 1991), pp. 449窶54.
Eugene B. Skolnikoff (1994) The Elusive Transformation: Science, Technology, and the Evolution of International Politics, Princeton University Press, pp. 49-92.
Richard Rhodes (1986) The Making of the Atomic Bomb, New York/London: Simon & Schuster (optional).
窶狼he Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II: A Collection of Primary Sources窶 National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 162, edited by William Burr <>
E-reference: The Nuclear Threat Initiative <>
Video: The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (Academy Award for Documentary Feature for 2003)
Visual reference: <>; <>
A compendium of articles and book chapters may be included as handouts.

Related and/or prerequisite courses

This course consists of obligatory lectures and seminars. Each student is required to read the assigned readings and come prepared to discuss them. Active participation, oral presentation, reading response memos, and essay work are required to pass the course. Basic knowledge of international politics is preferable for effective participation.


Regular class attendance and active participation (10%), Reading response memos (three memos/10% each), Essay work (final paper) (60%)

Comments from lecturer

Nuclear technology 窶 military or civilian 窶 dominated the world in political, economic, and military terms in the latter half of the 20th century. It is an open question if we are heading toward 窶彗 world without nuclear weapons窶 as coined by President Obama. Knowledge of nuclear issues will deepen your understanding of the contemporary world.

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