We would like to warmly congratulate Dr Tim Street, who has this month defended his ESRC-funded PhD dissertation at Warwick University. His thesis is entitled: ‘The Politics of Nuclear Disarmament: Obstacles to and Opportunities for Eliminating Nuclear Weapons in and Between the Nuclear Weapon States.’ Tim worked at BASIC as part of his research before joining the Oxford Research Group. We will be working with Tim to help him publicise some of the results of his thesis in due course. The abstract of Dr Street’s thesis is below:
This thesis examines what political conditions must be established and what obstacles overcome, nationally and internationally, in order for the five ‘official’ nuclear weapon states (NWS) under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT)—China, France, Russia, the UK and the US—to abolish their nuclear weapons. In order to assess the explanatory power of existing mainstream and realist perspectives regarding the causes and consequences of NWS nuclear possession and disarmament, a substantial evidence base is utilised. Academic, advocacy and government documents, as well as interviews with a range of practitioners in this field, are drawn on to develop an institutional-historical analysis of nuclear politics in and between NWS.
From this assessment of the existing literature, it is argued that whilst mainstream and realist works have some value, there are several gaps in and problems with their analysis that need to be addressed. For example, such works do not provide a full account of nuclear politics because they mainly focus on the international level, so that the role domestic politics plays in nuclear matters is not properly considered. In order to rectify this deficiency, I adopt a critical and normative approach and develop the domestic politics model of nuclear possession to better imagine the political causes and consequences of nuclear disarmament.
The approach adopted, which I term institutional democratisation, proposes that if nuclear weapons are to be permanently eliminated then legitimate forms of power, including popular, democratic movements driven by principles of equality and justice, need to be developed in NWS that are capable of controlling and eliminating the bomb. This is necessary because the behaviour of nuclear weapon decision making elites across NWS—and the institutions they inhabit and maintain—present the principal barrier to meaningful progress on eliminating nuclear weapons. Nuclear disarmament will thus both contribute to reformed domestic, regional and international political orders and benefit from wider, progressive change at each of these levels.
Image ©: Dr Tim Street