Published Work

Polarity, Proliferation, and Restraint: A Market-Centric Approach

Author/s: Eliza Gheorghe 

Abstract: In unipolarity, the United States was well-positioned to curb the spread of nuclear weapons with the help of multilateral institutions. One of the key mechanisms at Washington’s disposal was the nuclear export control regime created in cooperation with the Soviet Union in the second half of the Cold War. But rather than taking advantage of the extant architecture, Washington decided to shift to the preemptive use of force as a nonproliferation tool. Stemming the nuclear tide became closely intertwined with the United States’ pursuit of liberal hegemony. Success proved elusive on both fronts, as military intervention led to the weakening and exhaustion of U.S. power. Washington failed to acknowledge that the export controls had worked as planned. Several proliferants had slowed down or ended their nuclear pursuits after failing to procure the necessary materials and technologies. Others had refrained from starting weapon programs altogether. The unsung victories of the multilateral export control regime suggest that restraint would not have come at the expense of nonproliferation. Washington could have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons without getting embroiled in protracted and expensive military interventions. Market regulatory mechanisms were on its side, but the United States failed to notice.

Proliferation and the Logic of the Nuclear Market

Author/s: Eliza Gheorghe 

Abstract: The evolution of the nuclear market explains why there are only nine members of the nuclear club, not twenty-five or more, as some analysts predicted. In the absence of a supplier cartel that can regulate nuclear transfers, the more suppliers there are, the more intense their competition will be, as they vie for market share. This commercial rivalry makes it easier for nuclear technology to spread, because buyers can play suppliers off against each other. The ensuing transfers help countries either acquire nuclear weapons or become hedgers. The great powers (China, Russia, and the United States) seek to thwart proliferation by limiting transfers and putting safeguards on potentially dangerous nuclear technologies. Their success depends on two structural factors: the global distribution of power and the intensity of the security rivalry among them. Thwarters are most likely to stem proliferation when the system is unipolar and least likely when it is multipolar. In bipolarity, their prospects fall somewhere in between. In addition, the more intense the rivalry among the great powers in bipolarity and multipolarity, the less effective they will be at curbing proliferation. Given the potential for intense security rivalry among today’s great powers, the shift from unipolarity to multipolarity does not portend well for checking proliferation.

Balance of Power Redux: Nuclear Alliances and the Logic of Extended Deterrence

Author/s: Eliza Gheorghe 

Abstract: How do unbalanced nuclear alliances provide extended nuclear deterrence (END) to their members? Why have nuclear alliances chosen certain types of END strategy and not others? Existing accounts regard END as a function of the inter-alliance balance of power, regime type, or institutional design. END strategies inspired by theories focused on regime type and institutional design have not yet materialised, while the inter-alliance balance of power does not suffice to explain the choice of END strategy. To elucidate variations in END strategy, this article puts forward an argument centred on the intra-alliance balance of power. Drawing on the history of the US-led and the Soviet-led alliances during the Cold War, namely North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact, it shows how the two superpowers changed their approach to defending their allies with nuclear weapons according to quantitative and qualitative shifts in the distribution of power within the alliance.

What Arguments Motivate Citizens to Demand Nuclear Disarmament?

Author/s: Anne I. Harrington, Eliza Gheorghe & Anya Loukianova Fink

Abstract: Why is the global public so apathetic about nuclear disarmament? To answer this question, this article examines the various arguments made in support of policies meant to rid the world of atomic weapons. They include the immorality of deterrence, its impracticality in a world where the enemy does not behave rationally, and the calamitous consequences of nuclear accidents. The authors argue that the approach with the highest chance of successfully stimulating political activism focuses on the current costs of maintaining nuclear arsenals.

Peace for Atoms. US Non-Proliferation Policy and the Romanian Role in the Sino-American Rapprochement, 1969-1971

Author/s: Eliza Gheorghe 

Abstract: By 1970, the United States had undergone a remarkable volte-face on dealing with People’s Republic of China as a nuclear weapon state, from outspoken opposition to political recognition. Aware of the importance of co-opting Beijing in the emerging multipolar order, President Richard Nixon sought any possible opening to the Chinese leadership. One secret backchannel passed through Bucharest, whom Washington rewarded with sensitive atomic assistance for its good offices. If in the mid-1960s dealing with China was regarded as detrimental to the cause of nonproliferation, by the early 1970s, the United States relaxed its nuclear exports policy towards useful adversaries, such as Romania, all in pursuit of geopolitical interests.

Building détente in Europe? East–West trade and the beginnings of Romania's nuclear programme, 1964–70

Author/s: Eliza Gheorghe 

Abstract: This article examines the connection between détente in Europe and East–West nuclear technology transfers through the lens of Romania’s co-operation policy in the field of atomic energy in the 1960s. It argues that until 1967 the bourgeoning relations between Western Europe and Romania did not stem from a desire to overcome the artificial division of Europe, but rather from the pursuit of unilateral economic benefits. This situation worked to the advantage of the Romanians, who acquired an important nuclear research reactor from the British by playing West European countries against one another. Afterwards, in order to boost their competitiveness, the West Europeans started pooling their nuclear industries together, although traditional rivalries such as the Anglo-French competition endured. Despite these efforts to achieve closer integration, the West Europeans failed to sell a nuclear power plant to Romania because of internal problems within their nuclear–industrial complexes, and because of Soviet meddling in the internal affairs of its satellites. This research adds to our understanding of Romania’s détente policy during the 1960s, while also shedding light on the development of East–West relations in the field of atomic energy.

Atomic Maverick: Romania's negotiations for nuclear technology, 1964–1970

Author/s: Eliza Gheorghe 

Abstract: Romania’s courting of Western nuclear suppliers started during the Johnson Presidency. Based on multi-archival research, this article argues that Romania’s turn to the West stemmed from Moscow’s reluctance to share its nuclear advances with Bucharest. It examines the strategy Romania employed to win over the United States, namely acting as a messenger between Hanoi and Washington in the Vietnam War. This article shows that Soviet pressures turned Bucharest, at least temporarily, away from Western suppliers. This research adds to our understanding of Romania’s political manoeuvring in the 1960s while also throwing light on the Washington’s and Moscow’s stances on proliferation.

Nicolae Ceausescu, In Mental Maps in the Era of Detente and the End of the Cold War

Author/s: Eliza Gheorghe 

Abstract: In the traditional narrative of the Cold War, Nicolae Ceauşescu, the leader of the Socialist Republic of Romania and General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party (RCP) from 1965 until 1989, remains the enfant terrible of the Eastern Bloc. By this term, historians underline that he was an adamantly anti-Soviet, nationalist, pro-Western leader, pursuing an independent foreign policy.1 However, recent scholarship and newly declassified archival documents cast a very different light on Ceauşescu. He was not only eager to cooperate with the USSR, but also bent on undermining the capitalist bloc.2 The sources of Ceauşescu’s behaviour can be traced to his upbringing and family environment; his education, involvement in the communist movement and international experience; his personal values and role models; and finally his approach towards the structural forces (ideological, political, strategic, economic and geographic) that shaped international affairs during this time. It was interdependence not independence that anchored Ceauşescu’s policies in the global Cold War.

Not in the Cards: US-China Arms Control in the Era of Multipolar Competition

Author/s:  Dilan Ezgi Koç and Eliza Gheorghe

Abstract: The distribution of power at the international level and the intensity of the security rivalry can explain the trajectory of arms control between China and the United States. Washington and Beijing were able to work together during the second half of the Cold War and for much of unipolarity because the system was bipolar and the security competition was mild or non-existent. The advent of multipolarity and the ensuing intense security competition put an end to Sino-American cooperation on arms control. The current circumstances are not conducive to a resumption of exchanges.


Proliferation within Alliances: The Unintended Consequences of Security Triangles

Author/s: Eliza Gheorghe 

Abstract: This chapter examines the connection between alliance dynamics and nuclear dominoes. It seeks to address a heretofore unaddressed puzzle: Why would nuclear dominoes involve states protected by the same patron’s nuclear umbrella? One of the most common explanations for proliferation cascades focuses on the presence of a security threat, which is traditionally thought of as an external enemy. This chapter shows that the spark for a state’s nuclear ambitions can also come from within an alliance, namely from a proliferating rival junior partner. The protection each protégé receives from the patron’s nuclear umbrella can vary. Differentiation accentuates rifts between rival junior allies, which, in turn, can create proliferation pressures. The analysis draws on the history of the competition between France and the United Kingdom, on the one hand, and South Korea and Japan, on the other, to illustrate how these U.S. allies got trapped in reactive proliferation cycles. The aim of this chapter is to show that nuclear dominoes are not only a response to proliferation by traditional enemies but also an unintended consequence of the patron’s effort to forestall allied proliferation through the extension of a nuclear umbrella.

In Progress

Tinker, Trader, Soldier, Spy: Nuclear Acquisition Strategies and Proliferation

Author/s: Eliza Gheorghe 

Abstract: How do countries acquire nuclear weapons? In recent years, nuclear proliferation has received increasing attention, but we still do not have a thorough understanding of how states have developed their nuclear infrastructure and, from there, how they built their atomic arsenals. Previous research uses proxy variables to operationalize the pathways states can pursue in their nuclear development. Using an original dataset covering all nuclear facilities in the world from 1939 until 2014, this paper examines eight pathways to nuclear development (original design, replication, inheritance, military conquest, multinational cooperation, assistance from an international organization, assistance from a sub-state actor, state-to-state transfers) and their effect on the spread of nuclear weapons. I argue that countries developing their nuclear programs through state-to- state nuclear transfers have a higher likelihood of becoming nuclear-weapon states, and find robust empirical support for this proposition. This study offers a more fine-grained understanding of the diffusion of nuclear technology, and of the processes which allow states to nuclearize.

Status and the Nuclear Market: Why Suppliers Join the Nuclear Suppliers Group

Author/s: Eliza Gheorghe 

Abstract: The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a 48-member cartel established by the United States and the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the 1974 Peaceful Nuclear Explosion conducted by India. Historically, cartels emerged from colluding firms seeking to raise prices by restricting output. The NSG is different. Instead of increasing revenues, the NSG limits its members’ ability to sell an entire class of products (Enrichment and Reprocessing facilities), no matter how much buyers are willing to pay. As such, the NSG has put an entire branch of the global nuclear industry in ruin. Why do countries participate in the NSG, given that it hurts their commercial interests? This paper argues that states take part in the NSG because of status considerations. Countries whose high levels of international prestige are not matched by their position in the nuclear market experience status dissatisfaction. Being a member of an exclusive club such as the NSG helps alleviate such discontent because it signals that other, more influential suppliers recognize a state as being similar to them. But perhaps the most effective way in which NSG membership relieves status dissatisfaction is by leveling the playing field: rather than giving a boost to a few powerful suppliers, the NSG forces all its members to underperform. Suppliers participate in the NSG to deny other sellers the nuclear market recognition they themselves cannot have.