First Advisor

David Kinsella

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science


Political Science




East Asia -- Foreign relations, Nuclear nonproliferation -- East Asia -- Case studies, Arms race -- East Asia -- Case studies, Nuclear arms control -- East Asia -- Case studies



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 144 p.)


Since the end of the Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979, Northeast Asia and its comprising countries have avoided international conflict as well as any regional set has done over the past few decades. The absence of nuclear weapons among Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, in particular, is striking, given their technological and scientific capabilities. Though each of those countries has come close at times to developing their own nuclear weapons, one factor or another contributed to the failure of those upstart programs. The United States has played a significant role in all of them. Still, other factors remain. The purpose of this thesis is to determine in detail what caused the lack of a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia, beyond the American angle, as far as could be done. Existential threats exist to each country involved in the study, theoretically and tactically. Additionally, what causes an outlier like North Korea, which has boldly moved forward with nuclear weapons development? An important work by Scott Sagan is utilized in the thesis to assist with developing some far-reaching conclusions, with great importance to other parts of the world, beyond northeast Asia. Other literature can assist with those conclusions, as well. The framework of this thesis will be to intermingle a somewhat amended version of Sagan's nuclear proliferation rationalizations with historical analyses to draft some region-specific conclusions about why northeast Asia has not had a nuclear arms race. Processes going on between countries, within countries, and among countries, militarily, culturally, and economically, play such important roles than none can be discarded. The economic power centered on the capitalist core of northeast Asia can show how nuclear weapons acquisition is no longer among the things necessary to gain international respect or even security.


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Hatfield School of Government. Division of Political Science

Persistent Identifier