This article critically reviews scholarship on the role of conflict and cooperation in conditioning nuclear proliferation. We start by laying out the trajectory of scholarship on the causes of proliferation, organizing it in three waves: () security and () nonsecurity drivers of proliferation, and () supply constraints on nuclear acquisition. We then examine the recent turn in the proliferation literature toward a strategic interaction approach, focusing on how conflict and cooperation between proliferators, their adversaries, and their allies shape the spread of nuclear weapons. We argue for an integrated framework for analyzing the tools states can deploy to foster or stymie proliferation. Finally, we sketch an agenda for research on nuclear proliferation. Here, we argue that scholarship should () incorporate nonsecurity dynamics into the strategic interaction approach to the study of proliferation and () combine rigorous theory with careful historical research to further our understanding of the causes of proliferation.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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