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Nuclear Non-Proliferation

CSSS scholars engage in a wide range of academic and policy relevant research into the causes and impact of nuclear proliferation, as well as the measures that can be put in place by different actors to counter the spread of nuclear weapons. Listed below is a short summary of current and past projects, research areas and publications. You may also be interested in the pages devoted to the Iranian nuclear challenge and chemical and biological weapons.

Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Briefing Book

The NPT Briefing Book is a reference guide containing a wide selection of documents related to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and its review process. It is widely used by national delegations as well as members of the civil society as part of their preparation for NPT meetings. The Briefing Book represents a ‘living document’ that has been regularly updated since the early 1990s. It was first published in 1990 by Professor John Simpson under the auspices of the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies at the University of Southampton. In 2012, the Briefing Book found a new home in the Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS) at King’s College London and is produced in partnership with the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies.

The book is divided into two parts, one offering introductory materials on nuclear weapons and nuclear energy as well as a brief history of the Treaty and significant milestones in its review process and the second part containing the texts of relevant NPT review process documentation in addition to updates on the UN, IAEA and international developments relevant to the NPT review process. 

For further information contact: Dr Hassan Elbahtimy 

European Non-Proliferation Policies

The European Union (EU) is a ‘strange animal’ in international affairs. It is neither a nation state nor a typical international organization. Although it is active in a broad range of areas – from agriculture to peace-building –what it is and what it does has been widely contested. Building on a European Commission-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie project, Dr Ben Kienzle is conducting research on what is arguably the EU’s newest field of activity: defence and security – with a focus on the proliferation of WMD. In a recent article published in International Affairs Dr Kienzle examined the first ten years of the 2003 EU WMD Strategy. He argued that the EU can deliver practical outcomes across diverse proliferation areas and challenged widely held perceptions of the EU as an ineffective security actor. Dr Kienzle has built on this research with subsequent articles in Cooperation and Conflict, Mediterranean Politics and European Security.

For further information contact: Dr Ben Kienzle

NPT and Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons

The NPT is arguably at a particularly fragile point due, in part, to pressure on Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) to make more significant moves towards nuclear disarmament. Frustration regarding this lack of progress has given rise to a new initiative, launched in 2012, on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons. In an article in the RUSI Journal Dr Heather Williams explores ways of merging ethical with security-based approaches to disarmament, in the context of NATO and a changing security environment in Europe. This is considered further in a forthcoming article in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists where Dr Heather Williams outlines practical steps by which nuclear possessor states can build trust with the frustrated non-nuclear weapons states and advocacy groups in favour of a nuclear weapons ban.

For further information contact: Dr Heather Williams

‘Regime complexity’ in countering nuclear proliferation

One of the most pervasive approaches to impeding the spread of nuclear weapons has been the creation of international non-proliferation institutions and agreements. However, this has led to an intricate web of dozens of formal and informal institutions and agreements. Nowadays, even non-proliferation experts have difficulties to grasp fully the entirety of what has become collectively known as the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and its wider implications. Under a new British Academy-funded project Dr Ben Kienzle is carrying out research to new light on this complex and often deficient maze of non-proliferation institutions and agreements by making use of the emerging International Relations concept of ‘regime complexity’. More specifically, the project takes two interlinked research steps: First, it examines the concrete issues, shortcomings, and pitfalls of the non-proliferation ‘regime complex’. Second, this forms the basis for the in-depth analysis of the implications of this ‘regime complex’ for the efficient and effective policy-making in the field of nuclear non-proliferation.

For further information contact: Dr Ben Kienzle

China and Nuclear Responsibility in the Global Nuclear Order

Understanding the role China plays within the global nuclear order has been a relatively neglected area of research until recently. Under a three-year British Academy Postgraduate Research Fellowship (awarded in 2012, under the Mentorship of Professor Andrew Hurrell at the University of Oxford) Dr Nicola Leveringhaus (nee Horsburgh) has sought to fill this cap through exploring at a theoretical level, the concept of nuclear responsibility and, at an empirical level, Chinese attempts since the 1990s to appear as a more responsible nuclear weapons state within the global nuclear order. More recently, she has examined the relationship between responsibility and strategic stability in the global nuclear order. This work draws on on Chinese statements at the United Nations, the Non-Proliferation Treaty and official white papers, as well as multiple interviews with Chinese nuclear experts in China and the United States. In a book published by OUP Dr Leveringhaus explores the motivations behind China’s nuclear policy from 1949 to the present day, how this impacted on US and Soviet thinking and its interaction with key international institutions such as the NPT and the CTBT.

Project Alpha

Project Alpha represents a series of projects that work to understand and counter illicit, proliferation-related trade. Alpha comprises three strands of activity: First, understanding the complexities of illicit trade. Second, improving the implementation of trade controls by government and the private sector including by contributing to the EU outreach programme on dual-use goods. Third, informing and improving international efforts to prevent proliferation.

For further information, visit the Alpha Non-proliferation Hub or contact Mr Ian J. Stewart. Project Alpha is also on Twitter @AlphaNonpro

Recent Publications

Academic Articles

Benjamin Kienzle, ‘The Irony of History: European Responses to the Contested Evolution of the Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament Regime’, in Barbé, Esther, Costa, Oriol, Kissack, Robert (Eds.) EU Policy Responses to a Shifting Multilateral System (Basingstoke: Palgrave): 25-48 (2016).

Grøndahl Glavind, Johanne and Benjamin Kienzle, special section on ‘The EU and the nuclear non-proliferation regime: internal and external challenges’, European Security 48(5), 1-76 (2015).

Benjamin Kienzle, ‘The exception to the rule? The EU and India’s Challenge to the Non-Proliferation Norm’, European Security 24(1), 36-55 (2015).

Christopher Hobbs and Elise Young, ‘A Holistic Framework for Supply-side Nonproliferation’, International Journal of Nuclear Security, Vol. 1, No. 1, Article 6 pp. 1-13 (September 2015).

Benjamin Kienzle, Bruno Oliveira Martins and Antoine Vandermoortele, ‘Security Issues in Foreign Policy’, in Ben Tonra et al. (eds), SAGE Handbook of European Foreign Policy, London: SAGE (2015)

Clara Portela and Benjamin Kienzle, ‘European Union Non-Proliferation Policies before and after the 2003 Strategy: Continuity and Change’, in Spyros Blavoukos, Dimitrios Bourantonis and Clara Portela (eds), The EU and the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons: Strategies, Policies, Actions, Basingstoke: Palgrave (2015).

Nicola Horsburgh, ‘Chinese views of a nuclear India, from the 1974 PNE to the NSG waiver’, in Kate Sullivan, ed., Competing visions of India: India's Rise Beyond the West (Palgrave) (2015).

Nicola Horsburgh, China and Global Nuclear Order, from estrangement to active engagement (Oxford: Oxford University Press) (2015).

Nicola Horsburgh, Astrid Nordin and Shaun Breslin, eds., Chinese Politics and International Relations: Innovation and Invention (London: Routledge) (2014).

Benjamin Kienzle, ‘The New Face of EU Security Policies? Analyzing the Normative Patterns of EU Non-Proliferation Policies in the Southern Mediterranean’, Mediterranean Politics 19(1), 40–58 (2014)

Christopher Hobbs and Matthew Moran, ‘Armchair Safeguards: The Role of OSINT in Proliferation Analysis’, in Christopher Hobbs, Matthew Moran and Daniel Salisbury (eds) Open Source Intelligence in the Twenty-First Century: New Approaches and Opportunities (Palgrave Macmillan: New Security Challenges Series, (2014)

Kienzle, Benjamin, ‘A European Contribution to Non-Proliferation? The EU WMD Strategy at Ten’, International Affairs 89(5), 1143–1159 (2013).

Kienzle, Benjamin, ‘The Role of Ideas in EU Responses to International Crises: Comparing the Cases of Iraq and Iran’, Cooperation and Conflict 48(3), 424-443 (2013).

Kienzle, Benjamin and Cindy Vestergaard, ‘The Non-Proliferation Regime’, in Knud-Erik Jørgensen and Katie Verlin Laatikainen (eds), Routledge Handbook on the European Union and International Institutions, Abingdon: Routledge, 371-388 (2013).

Christopher Hobbs, ‘Understanding the November 2011 IAEA report on Iran’, Physics and Society, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 21-23 (2012).

Christopher Hobbs and Matthew Harries, ‘Nuclear Deterrence: Enduring Relevance but Growing Need For Re-Evaluation’, Handbook of Nuclear Proliferation, Routledge International Handbooks, pp. 15-26 (December 2011)

Policy Briefs and Op-Eds

Matthew Cottee and Hassan Elbahtimy, ‘Russia’s Nuclear Ambitions in the Middle East: Getting Power by Providing Power’, Foreign Affairs (May 2016).

‘Nuclear weapons developments in China’, commissioned for the periodical of the Institut de recherche stratégique de l'École militaire (IRSEM), the Institute for Strategic Research in Paris, August (2016).

Recent Chinese nuclear weapons developments, commissioned policy brief for Oxford Analytica, May (2016).

Benjamin Kienzle, ‘Integrating without quite breaking the rules: The EU and India’s acceptance within the non-proliferation regime’, Non-Proliferation Papers 43, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium (2015).

‘Why China joined the nuclear club’, The Conversation, 15 June (2015).

Nicola Horsburgh ‘Responsibility to participate? China and multilateral arms control in the global nuclear order’, Proceedings of the Inaugural British International Studies Association Global Nuclear Order Working Group Conference, 19 September (2013).

Nicola Horsburgh, ‘Debating China’s North Korea Policy’, Politics in Spires blog, 30 May 2013.

Nicola Horsburgh, ‘North Korea’s third nuclear test – what’s different this time round?’ Politics in Spires blog, 13 February (2013).

Benjamin Kienzle, ‘Between Human Rights and Non-Proliferation. Norm Competition in the EU’s Iran Policy’, UNISCI Discussion Papers 30 (Oct.), 77-91 (2012)

Benjamin Kienzle, ‘The European Union and Non-Proliferation: The Record to Date’, European Leadership Network, London, England, 10 Sep., available at: (2013)

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