Document Type

Graduate Syllabus


Spring 2014



Course Number

DIPL 6134 NA

Course Description

This course provides a knowledge base and background for understanding contemporary international relations in which nuclear weapons play a central role. Currently, nuclear weapons policy is of critical importance in U.S. relations with Iran, Pakistan and North Korea. Questions of stockpiles, safety, proliferation and deployment have been ongoing with the Russian Federation since 1991 and with the previous Soviet Union dating back to the dawn of the Atomic Age. In addition, the real but often unacknowledged, nuclear strike capabilities of Israel play a critical role in shaping the dynamics of Middle East affairs. Since the Al Qaeda attack of 9/11, the potential use of nuclear weapons by non-nation states has become a priority focus of national and international attention. The specter of Nuclear Terrorism has become a more central concern than that of Nuclear Deterrence.

In order to understand these issues, the course will include study of the fundamentals of nuclear weapons technology through an historic review that begins with the Manhattan Project of World War II and continues with the U.S. - Soviet Union arms race that shaped many aspects of world affairs from post World-War II through the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Additional historic events that help illuminate contemporary issues include the unsuccessful weapons programs of Iraq and Libya, as well as the abandoned weapons program of South Africa.

These discussions will provide a context for reviewing the various international initiatives, treaties and organizations that have been developed for facilitating monitoring and control of nuclear weapons. These include the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963), SALT I (1972), SALT II (1979), START I (1991), START II (1993), New START (2010) among other treaties, as well as the role of President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace Program and the initiation and development of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).