Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Economics Dept.


Simge Tarhan

Second Advisor

Jason Long


There are currently only nine countries which possess nuclear weapons, but twenty-four countries have pursued the requisite technology. The question remains as to why nations ceased their programs, and whether the policies of the international community had anything to do with that decision. This paper uses both a game theoretic and a probit model with limited assumptions to attempt to uncover: a) what are the determinants of a country shuttering their nuclear weapon program, b) when "sticks and carrots" can be credible (subgame perfect), and c) how large of a role they play in the potential nuclear country's decision-making. I find that sanctions can only be credible when the cost to future prestige of doing nothing is enough to outweigh the residual cost for the international community. In turn, there is little empirical evidence that international levers have much effect. I also find that delaying benefits could make the offer more credible, but could also create a perverse incentive whereby the weapon-pursuing nation continues their program solely to receive future benefits. There is evidence of this moral hazard as greater foreign aid makes a country less likely to cease their program, and greater GDP per capita makes them more likely. Finally, I find that there is great inertia within programs, making them harder to cease as time increases.


nuclear weapons, proliferation, game theory, foreign affairs, policy analysis

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