Dynamics of Normative Change for International Nuclear Export Controls

In: Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations
Lami Kim US Army War College USA Carlisle, PA

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Like other normative systems, the international nuclear export control norms are incomplete and at times contradictory. Thus, contestations to the international nuclear export control norms inevitably emerge, as they did in the wake of the 1974 Indian nuclear test and the 1991 discovery of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. These two nuclear crises prompted intense debates regarding the adequacy of the existing norms. The outcome of the debates generated overwhelming agreement and action among nuclear suppliers that they required strengthening. Drawing on Wayne Sandholtz’s theory of normative change, which argues that events trigger disputes whose outcomes modify norms, this article illustrates how the nuclear export control norms have evolved in a cyclical fashion. The article aims to contribute to the constructivist literature on normative change and discusses policy implications.

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