Some countries pursue nuclear weapons, while others do not. What could be the reason behind this? In this project, I carry out a comparative case study between the countries of South Korea and Japan in order to understand why they did not go nuclear in the aftermath of the 2006 North Korean nuclear test. In fact, North Korea carried out two more nuclear tests since 2006 but neither South Korea nor Japan has shown evidence of going nuclear. The three primary theories of realism, liberalism, and constructivism are used to analyze the non-pursuit of nuclear weapons by both these countries, and form the essence of this qualitative analysis. I primarily rely upon Scott Sagan’s three models to study nuclear non-pursuit, but also make a few changes to some of the independent variables. The realist security guarantees with the United States seems to be the strongest indicator of non-pursuit in South Korea. In the case of Japan, I conclude that many liberal notions of non-pursuit such as public opinion have roots in a constructivist variable and that leads me to proclaim norms and identity as the strongest variables, though security guarantees are important in the case of Japan too.


Marsh, Kevin


International Relations


International Relations

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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