SEST-548 Weapons Proliferation and Security
Spring for 2016-2017
The proliferation of unconventional and conventional weapons, and their related materials and agents, represents an ongoing threat to the national security of the United States (US). Multiple emerging factors (globalization, arms manufacturing innovation, ease of technology transfers, etc.) make contemporary arms control, nonproliferation and counterproliferation efforts both critical and extraordinarily vexing. Current challenges include (but not exclusively): the collapse of the Syrian regime and control of its chemical and biological weapons programs; Iran’s nuclear program; arms trafficking in Africa; countering biological threats; the growing threat from non-state actors (unconventional and conventional); and the Democratic Republic of North Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear programs.

Understanding proliferation’s implications for national security, and addressing proliferation challenges in this dangerous security environment, requires innovative approaches that utilize the full range of national and international policy instruments by all diplomatic, economic, legal and military means necessary.

With the above in mind, the key focus areas of this course will be on: (i) understanding and analyzing the strategic, historical and theoretical underpinnings of arms control, counter-proliferation and disarmament; (ii) examining conventional and unconventional weapons systems and programs; (iii) analyzing and reviewing current arms control regimes and counter-proliferation efforts; and (iv) case study analyses (to include a table-top exercise) focusing on the most pressing proliferation challenges.

The course will survey and review these focus areas, and place them in a context that will enable students to understand and appreciate relevant their implications for US and international security, as well as consider solution sets to address these evolving proliferation challenges.

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: SSP Students Only

Course syllabi
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Spring '17: Belk, P; Friedman, R (description, file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.


SEST-548-01 Weapons Proliferation and Security
Kahan, Bohlen
This course examines the evolution, dynamics, and security implications of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), ballistic and cruise missiles, and advanced conventional technologies. It traces the spread of nuclear weapons during the Cold War era to the five declared nuclear powers and acquisition of nuclear capabilities by other states. Early international efforts to manage nuclear technology are assessed. Challenges in the post-Cold War period are identified, notably the increased global spread of chemical and biological weapons capabilities as well as ballistic missiles. The effects of these trends on regional stability, international diplomacy, arms control, and US national security are explored. US responses are investigated in terms of policy priorities, relative effectiveness of alternative courses of action, and balance between national and international instruments. Specific attention is paid to the relationship between non-proliferation and counterproliferation (i.e., arms control and military-based policies).
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
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