Irrational Exuberance? The 2010 Npt Review Conference, Nuclear Assistance, and Norm Change

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The 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) produced a Final Document calling for an extension of the principles of the nonproliferation norm as well as steps toward complete disarmament. This article looks beyond the rhetoric, however, to examine recent decisions by great powers to expand nuclear trade with non-NPT countries and the implications of these decisions on the traditional nonproliferation norm of restraint. This article seeks to contribute to constructivist theory by supplementing existing accounts of norm creation and establishment with a new model of norm change. The article develops a case study of the 2008 US-India nuclear deal to highlight the role of elite agency in key stages of norm change, including redefinition and constructive substitution through contestation. It concludes that the traditional nonproliferation norm may be evolving in new directions that are not well captured by existing theoretical frames. © 2011 Monterey Institute of International Studies, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.


History and theory, India, Nonproliferation regime, Norms, Treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, United states

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