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The Globalization of World PoliticsAn Introduction to International Relations

The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations (8th edn)

John Baylis, Steve Smith, and Patricia Owens
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date: 07 February 2023

p. 46629. Proliferation of weapons of mass destructionlocked

p. 46629. Proliferation of weapons of mass destructionlocked

  • Sheena Chestnut Greitens


This chapter focuses on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It examines the patterns that can be observed in the spread and use/non-use of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons since 1945, how nuclear weapons have changed world politics, and whether non-proliferation efforts have been successful. The chapter first provides an overview of WMD technology and its spread before discussing biological and chemical weapons. It then considers theoretical debates about nuclear proliferation and the evolution of non-proliferation efforts. Two case studies are presented, one dealing with the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the other with the nuclear programmes of North Korea and Iran. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether the use of chemical weapons in 2013 should have been a red line triggering international intervention in Syria.

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