Francis J. Gavin article review.

This post will review an article written by Francis J. Gavin on Nuclear proliferation and non-proliferation during the Cold War, making it one of the most relevant articles to this blog. F. Gavin received a masters and a Ph.D. in diplomatic history, and is now the first Frank Stanton Chair in Nuclear Policy studies and a professor in Political sciences at MIT. Nuclear strategy and arms control is one of his main interests and area of study. Showing how qualified and trusted his writing is and how relevant the article is.

The article discusses the history of nuclear weapons and what was done to slow proliferation throughout the years, from D. Eisenhower’s “Atoms for peace” promoting the sharing of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes to one of the most significant acts in nuclear history. The 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was one of the largest successes of international diplomacy relating to nuclear weapons to date. He discusses how each of the countries felt about the signing the NPT with America and Russia very keen for an agreement to be reached. And countries like France on the other hand who believed that that spread of nuclear weapons could not be stopped. He goes on to talk about how the NPT failed although Russia was keen to try and stop proliferation they provided China with 10’000 experts, technical drawings and refined fuel in return for uranium exports which is estimated to have sped up China’s Nuclear programme by 10 to 15 years. Also he talks about how western companies offered advanced nuclear technology to ‘potential proliferators’ such as Argentina, Brazil and Pakistan. He goes on to talk about how many potential proliferators abandoned their nuclear programmes and how the threat of proliferation began to slow down.

Some of the key arguments Gavin tries to put forward is that there is a possibility that the spread of nuclear weapons could be considered advantageous, as it forced the United States and Russia into diplomatic agreements as both knew the destructive capability of these weapons, and the fact that they had not been used against an enemy since the first times in Japan supports this argument. Also he makes it clear that the history of the nuclear age is not the same thing as the history of the Cold War.

In summary the article was written very well, it was easy to understand and follow as well as being informative it is suitable for the general public as it clearly explains all the surrounding arguments. The article is well sourced and backed up by many reliable. The article was written in 2010 giving it the advantage of hindsight others lack also being written more recently gives it the edge over other simpler older articles as more information available about proliferation and the United States and Russia. All of these are great reasons as to why this is an excellent article for anyone studying or with in interest in nuclear proliferation and non- proliferation during the Cold War.

Harry Breese.




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