The problem of nuclear proliferation will only get worse in the Eighties, says Lewis Dunn. And while that statement will...


CONTROLLING THE BOMB: Nuclear Proliferation in the 1980's

The problem of nuclear proliferation will only get worse in the Eighties, says Lewis Dunn. And while that statement will surprise no one, Dunn brings to his analysis of geopolitics and technology all the hard-nosed wargame thinking practiced by Herman Kahn et al. at the Hudson Institute, where Dunn was a senior staff member. (He is now with the State Department.) Dunn traces the growth of the nuclear club from the Fifties and Sixties, when membership was limited to a handful of states, to the present widespread interest in joining. (More than a dozen have-not aspirants are identified.) Aiding and abetting them are gray and black markets for equipment; personnel-for-hire; loopholes in treaties; and--most ticklish, perhaps--cases in which US (and other) self-interest clashes with non-proliferation. (The US, with bases in the Caribbean, has yet to ratify the Tlatelolco treaty creating a nuclear-free zone in Latin America.) Concrete proposals? Multilateral agreements--especially the threat of multilateral sanctions against countries presumed to be building a bomb. (Dunn sharply distinguishes between covert and overt arms-building, and between threatened and imposed sanctions; once sanctions are imposed, the country affected has little to lose--and may gain in internal cohesion and morale.) Also, better intelligence to detect operations and thwart smuggling; and better, more fool-proof procedures to protect against nuclear accidents. (Such measures have already paid off, we learn; during the Fifties and Sixties, ""nearly two dozen American aircraft crashed while carrying nuclear weapons."") Dunn argues, too, for Kahn's proposal of a first-use ban. Other possibilities would be to supply advanced conventional weapons to countries considering nuclear options, and, as always, recourse to quiet diplomacy. Oddly, Dunn says little about the International Nuclear Energy Agency's problems with site inspection. Nor is this a text rich in personalities or recent history. For that--and crisp companion reading--see Steve Weissman and Herbert Krosney's The Islamic Bomb (1981, p. 1400). Dunn's style, contrastingly, is somewhat grim and gray. But in setting forth the issues, the countries most likely to go nuclear, and more than a few options-for-coping, his text is exemplary.

Pub Date: April 1, 1982


Page Count: -

Publisher: Yale Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1982