Nuclear Proliferation History: New Evidence, Analysis & Policy Insights

Mar 06, 2013
Roland Popp and Elena Sokova speak at the ETH Zurich/VCDNP/NPIHP workshop on Nuclear Proliferation History: New Evidence, Analysis & Policy Insights
Roland Popp and Elena Sokova speak at the ETH Zurich/VCDNP/NPIHP workshop on Nuclear Proliferation History: New Evidence, Analysis & Policy Insights

Today’s nuclear policy challenges have deep roots in the past. Hence, international history of nuclear weapons proliferation does have the potential to play a role in aiding policy-making. Towards this goal, following the invitation of the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich, NPIHP partners, experts and policy people from all around the world traveled to Vienna, Austria, on February 1, 2013, for a one-day workshop. The participants had the opportunity to discuss the results of the historical research conducted so far within the project and work towards better understanding the wider implications of historical work for the policy context. The meeting greatly benefited from the gracious hosting by NPIHP's partners at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP). 

A number of scholars sketched the main conclusions of their recent historical research and outlined potential policy implications in sessions chaired by Francis J. Gavin from the University of Texas at Austin and William Potter from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Matias Spektor from the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro spoke about Brazil’s nuclear endeavors. Kapil Patil from the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi elaborated on recent research on India’s nuclear program. Anna-Mart van Wyk and Rene Geyer from Monash South Africa talked about research on South Africa’s atomic ambitions and abandonment. Yafeng Xia from the Long Island University in New York, and East China Normal University, presented the latest research on China. Christine Leah from the Australian National University in Canberra addressed Australia’s nuclear drives. Leopoldo Nuti from the Machiavelli Center for Cold War Studies and the University of Roma Tre outlined his research findings on Italy. Finally, Elisabeth Röhrlich of the University of Vienna's IAEA International History Research Project delivered a report on the archival research addressing the history of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Subsequently, William Burr from the National Security Archive in Washington, Itty Abraham from the National University of Singapore and Martin Sherwin from George Mason University in Washington had the opportunity to discuss the state of research in nuclear history. The session was moderated by Christian Ostermann from the Wilson Center in Washington. Finally, Francis J. Gavin, Nicholas Wheeler from the University of Birmingham and Tariq Rauf from Global Nuclear Solutions in Vienna debated the potential impact of historical research on policy decisions and political processes. The discussion engaged the numerous policy people from the Vienna based international organizations and national missions. This session was moderated by Nikolai Sokov from the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Leopoldo Nuti // Co-Director, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project; Public Policy Scholar
  • Evan Pikulski // Program Assistant