University of Sussex
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Non-conventional armament linkages: nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in the United Kingdom and Iraq

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:58 authored by Robert Daniel Lovsin
This dissertation examines the reasons why states want to acquire nonconventional weapons and analyzes interconnections between decisions on nuclear weapons (NW) on the one hand and chemical/biological weapons (CBW) on the other. Much of the literature on non-conventional weapons has tended to focus either on nuclear weapons or on CBW, with CBW often portrayed as the “poor man’s nuclear bomb.” While there is some truth in this, the interconnections between decisions to develop NW and decisions to develop CBW are more numerous, more varied and more nuanced. The dissertation examines non-conventional armament processes in the United Kingdom and Iraq. Using two disparate cases provides the analysis with a comprehensive data set, the lessons from which have formed the basis of the analysis. Having nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons for the purpose of use is not always a state’s ultimate goal and factors as wide-ranging as national prestige and the maintenance of international relationships are important in determining why some states decide to pursue NBC weapons. The case study findings have been synthesized into four key areas in which NBC linkages are particularly significant: strategic issues and strategic cultures; political considerations; economics and finances; and future challenges. The key finding is that there are interconnections that show how NW and CBW influence each other. For example, both the UK and Iraq showed that if nuclear weapons were not available, interest in CBW would increase. Conversely, possession of nuclear weapons does not necessarily rule out interest in acquiring CBW armament. Non-conventional weapons present a significant challenge to the maintenance of international peace and security. As this dissertation demonstrates, NBC weapons are linked on many levels and it is important to understand how CBW can and do influence policy on nuclear weapons and vice versa.


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  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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