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Atomic Assurance: The Alliance Politics of Nuclear Proliferation, Alexander Lanoszka

Reviewed by Rupal N. Mehta

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Alexander Lanoszka’s new book addresses and answers one of the most important questions in grand strategy and nuclear security: how do alliances impact the spread of nuclear weapons proliferation? Anchored in the seminal literature on security-based motivations for nuclear weapons acquisition and contemporaneous debates about how best to prevent or reverse these acquisitions, the author outlines and develops a methodical approach to examining and responding to existing scholarship that yields differing explanations about the variables that influence nuclear decision-making.

In addition to systematically addressing some of limitations of the existing explanations, the author clearly and persuasively details why alliances may not be as universally useful for nuclear abandonment (seeking to reverse an ally’s existing nuclear program) but can still significantly influence whether states pursue nuclear weapons program at the outset. In this commendable undertaking, Lanoszka employs a rigorous research design that presents a series of controlled case studies (Japan and West Germany), as well as a critical case (South Korea) that carefully trace causal mechanisms against the historical record.

Despite these important advances to the existing scholarship, aspec

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