Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Liam Anderson (Committee Chair), Carlos Costa (Committee Member), Vaughn Shannon (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Seventy years after the first use of nuclear weapons in World War II, the proliferation of these apocalyptic munitions remains a key policy issue on the international stage. The available literature on nuclear proliferation suggests a strong correlation between the threat of rival a state seeking nuclear weapons and a state's own decision to pursue its own nuclear weapons. Regional rivals Argentina and Brazil both initiated nuclear weapons programs and were also developing nuclear delivery systems; however, these countries were able to step out of this dyadic proliferation spiral and renounced their nuclear weapons programs. Often assumed a success of the burgeoning nonproliferation regime embodied by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, some scholars view Argentina and Brazil as boldly resistant to the aggressive posture of the extra-regional regime. Which International Relations (IR) theory is best suited to explain the proliferation outcomes of Argentina and Brazil? More specifically, were Argentina and Brazil's nuclear proliferation decisions driven more by security, norms, or domestic politics? A case study of this dyad will be done using process tracing to determine which theory best supports the nuclear re-posturing of each country.

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Department or Program

Department of Political Science

Year Degree Awarded