Vertical Proliferation in Light of the Disarmament Commitment

  • Katarzyna KubiakEmail author
Part of the Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies book series (RCS)


Nuclear-weapon modernization is an increasingly contested practice. This chapter shows that the relation between vertical proliferation and disarmament is neither straightforward nor unidirectional. On the one hand, while vertical proliferation implies greater numbers, qualitative enhancements, new military capabilities or an increased role of weapon systems, it can have some limited disarmament-inducing side effects. On the other hand, while the primary aim of arms control and disarmament is to reduce the number of and reliance on nuclear weapons, they paradoxically often go hand in hand with commitments supporting vertical proliferation. This chapter approaches the topic from a conceptual and legal point of view, and analyses its technical aspects and practical implementation by showcasing current US modernization and arms control efforts.


Vertical proliferation Modernization Nuclear weapons Disarmament US Arms control NPT 



The author is grateful for commentary on earlier drafts of this essay by Magnus Petersson, Michael Meyer, Hans M. Kristensen as well as participants at the UCSIA International Workshop ‘Non-nuclear peace’ at the University of Antwerp on May 23–25, 2018.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European Leadership NetworkLondonUK

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