Deterring Allies: Curbing the Emergence of Nuclear Outlaws in East Asia
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As the Indo-Pacific region faces a changed nuclear environment in the 21st century where increasing number of states possess nuclear weapons or a latent nuclear capability, nuclear deterrence and nonproliferation have become more important. There now is heightened potential for the occurrence of small nuclear powers without second-strike capability in the Indo-Pacific. Based on the concept of deterrence, this dissertation examines US deterrence through nonproliferation policy toward its allies in East Asia, to whom the United States provides a critical component of their security strategy through extended deterrence. This research focuses on explaining the variation in US deterrence through nonproliferation policy tools despite the similarities of the allies with historical comparative case studies of Japan and South Korea. Moreover, it investigates how the United States has deterred its allies from acquiring nuclear weapons on three levels of domestic, individual, and intra-alliance. Using the framework of critical juncture analysis, testing the making of US deterrence through nonproliferation policy before and after the critical junctures, this study argues that 1) domestic structural circumstances of divided with idealist bias or unified with realist bias in two allies led to different local responses to US policy that signaled the level of credibility of US security guarantee; 2) intermediaries that played a critical role in promoting mutual trust and confidence have influenced the credibility and confidence on intra-alliance level; 3) this credibility and confidence had shaped the direction of the US deterrence strategy of reward-based deterrence for Japan and threat-based deterrence for South Korea. This dissertation contributes to the existing literature on deterrence and alliance management by investigating how US deterrence through nonproliferation policy was shaped and tested in crises in the past to curb the emergence of potential nuclear outlaws in Indo-Pacific through managing alliances and the process of building trust. It also presents broader implications for other cases of US allies as well as non-allies that are relevant to current alliance politics and nuclear security dynamics in the regional theatre and hopes to shed light on future challenges under evolving international security settings.