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Assessing Reactive Proliferation: Why Nuclear Dominoes Rarely Fall
Unformatted Document Text:  Page 38 of 41 on exploration, and major power status an enormous relationship with acquisition, albeit in both cases only in the tens of thousands of percent. With the possible exception of the three exceptionally large results reported above, the other results appear plausible, and consistent with other work I have conducted on the determinants of nuclear weapons proliferation. 47 Note that the effect of having an enduring rival acquire nuclear weapons is substantial, increasing states’ risk of exploring nuclear weapons by more than 400 percent, in other words, making them more than four times more likely to explore. 6. Discussion and conclusion Are states whose rivals proliferate more likely to do so themselves? The findings presented above provide robust support for a nuanced hypothesis: States whose rivals proliferate are substantially more likely to explore nuclear weapons options and engage in other low-level proliferation behavior, but at least on average, no more likely to launch nuclear weapons programs or to acquire nuclear weapons. These findings are exceptionally robust across a broad range of models. As noted above, this paper presents only one facet of the dissertation project in progress on this topic. Additional quantitative analysis, not included here, explains modest variation in reactive proliferation outcomes by using interaction coefficients to examine the relationship between states’ likelihood of reactively proliferating and the intensity of rivalry with the initial proliferant, the degree of proliferation behavior engaged in by that proliferant, the potential respondent’s level of technological development, and the potential respondent’s access to a security 47 Philipp C. Bleek, “Why Do States Proliferate? Quantitative Analysis of the Exploration, Pursuit, and Acquisition of Nuclear Weapons” in William Potter (ed.), Forecasting Proliferation: The Role of Theory (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, forthcoming winter 2010).

Authors: Bleek, Philipp.
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Page 38 of 41
on exploration, and major power status an enormous relationship with acquisition, albeit 
in both cases only in the tens of thousands of percent. With the possible exception of the 
three  exceptionally  large  results  reported  above,  the  other  results  appear  plausible,  and 
consistent  with  other  work  I  have  conducted  on  the  determinants  of  nuclear  weapons 
proliferation.
47
Note that the effect of having an enduring rival acquire nuclear weapons 
is  substantial,  increasing  states’  risk  of  exploring  nuclear  weapons  by  more  than  400 
percent, in other words, making them more than four times more likely to explore.
6. Discussion and conclusion
Are  states  whose  rivals  proliferate  more  likely  to  do  so  themselves?  The  findings 
presented  above  provide  robust  support  for  a  nuanced  hypothesis:  States  whose  rivals 
proliferate are substantially more likely to explore nuclear weapons options and engage in 
other low-level  proliferation  behavior, but  at  least  on average,  no more  likely to  launch 
nuclear  weapons  programs  or  to  acquire  nuclear  weapons.  These  findings  are 
exceptionally robust across a broad range of models. As noted above, this paper presents 
only one facet of the dissertation project in progress on this topic. Additional quantitative 
analysis, not included here, explains modest variation in reactive proliferation  outcomes 
by using interaction coefficients to examine the relationship between states’ likelihood of 
reactively proliferating and the intensity of rivalry with the initial proliferant, the degree 
of  proliferation  behavior  engaged in  by that  proliferant, the  potential  respondent’s  level 
of  technological  development,  and  the  potential  respondent’s  access  to  a  security 
                                                
47
Philipp  C.  Bleek,  “Why  Do  States  Proliferate?  Quantitative  Analysis  of  the  Exploration,  Pursuit,  and 
Acquisition  of  Nuclear  Weapons”  in  William  Potter  (ed.),  Forecasting  Proliferation:  The  Role  of  Theory 
(Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, forthcoming winter 2010).


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