The centre cannot hold: impact of the scientific and information revolutions on the nonproliferation regime
Moodie, Amanda R.
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Abstract: The basic assumption of the nonproliferation regime "that proliferation can be limited by controlling access to materials and equipment as well as securing sensitive information and data" is increasingly erroneous. What people know is becoming more critical ... read moreto whether they develop a chemical, biological, or nuclear capability than what they possess. The materials and equipment necessary for proliferation are now more readily available than ever before; therefore, access to equipment, particularly with regards to chemical and biological weapons, is no longer the main barrier to proliferation. At the same time, the scientific expertise necessary to develop such a weapon is far more common and readily available than it has been at any point in the past. The shifts and developments in science and technology demand a new framework for conceptualizing proliferation risks and formulating policy, one that de-emphasizes control of materials or so-called "sensitive" information, and instead emphasizes the will or lack thereof of states or other actors to develop weapons of mass destruction and focuses on how to shape choices regarding proliferation. This paper will examine the assumptions and thinking of the traditional nonproliferation regime, as well as the ways in which the scientific advances and the information revolution of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries might undermine these assumptions. It suggests that there needs to be a corresponding shift in the way that policymakers and scholars think about proliferation and the means of preventing it, in order to address these new challenges effectively.read less