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Bargaining in the Shadow of Violence: The NPT, IAEA, and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Negotiations
Berkeley Journal of International Law (2008)
  • Arsalan M. Suleman

The NPT non-proliferation regime is both a multilateral treaty of international law and a dispute system designed to manage conflict over the use of nuclear technology. The system seeks to balance the competing desires of member-states to have access to peaceful nuclear technology and to provide national security. In the course of implementation, the system must handle disputes over alleged violations of the NPT and IAEA safeguards agreements. Negotiations, crucial to the functioning of the NPT dispute system, are undertaken in the shadow of the law and the shadow of violence. The NPT and any relevant agreement signed with the IAEA serve as a legal endowment, a set of rules that allocate rights and obligations for all parties involved. This legal framework acknowledges and incorporates various means of coercion, including the use of armed force, in order to enforce those rights and obligations. Still, the system has no monopoly on coercion and violence, as states can act outside of the system’s structure to influence actors within it. This article applies dispute systems design principles to analyze the NPT as a dispute system for nuclear proliferation concerns, and examines three case studies of non-proliferation negotiations – North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan – to see how negotiations were influenced by legal endowments and the shadow of violence.

  • dispute resolution,
  • international law,
  • negotiation,
  • nuclear proliferation,
  • non-proliferation,
  • politics,
  • national security
Publication Date
Citation Information
Arsalan M. Suleman. "Bargaining in the Shadow of Violence: The NPT, IAEA, and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Negotiations" Berkeley Journal of International Law Vol. 26 Iss. 1 (2008)
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