19 October 2011

Nuclear Proliferation in Northeast Asia: The Quest for Security

Andrew O’Neill, Nuclear Proliferation in Northeast Asia: The Quest for Security (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

The core principle underlying the strategy of nonproliferation – acceptance of a two tier international nuclear order – has become unsustainable. Policy makers and those in the academic world need to turn their attention to exploring new proliferation management strategies premised first and foremost on recognizing that nuclear weapons are here to stay and that determined proliferators can not be stopped from going nuclear. Andrew O’Neil develops this argument in relation to the role of nuclear weapons in Northeast Asia, the engine house of world economic growth. To what extent does the failing strategy of nonproliferation pose serious challenges for Northeast Asia’s security environment? Are there alternative strategies for managing nuclear weapons in the region? Should the presence of nuclear weapons in Northeast Asia necessarily be seen in exclusively negative terms, as many experts believe?


“O’Neil has written a pragmatic and incisive account of why nuclear deterrence strategy remains a contemporary hallmark of Northeast Asia’s geopolitics. His basic argument that the interests of present and potential nuclear actors in Northeast Asia will invariably prevail over idealistic but ephemeral norms of nuclear disarmament needs to be read and debated by all serious regional and international security scholars. Combining lucid analysis of the region’s most critical strategic dynamics with extensive empirical research, the author has provided us with an important statement on how to prioritise and implement the ‘nuclear question’ at a time when its importance is all too often underplayed.”

–Professor William T. Tow, Department of International Relations, Australian National University, author of Asia-Pacific Strategic Relations

“This book is essential reading for policy makers, academics and the public. Acknowledging that the nuclear non-proliferation regime is in desperate trouble, O’Neill asks the hard questions: how will this affect the already unstable Northeast Asian region; and how can we best prevent nuclear conflict there? His argument goes beyond the current orthodoxy that the NPT is our only chance of keeping the nuclear peace, and proposes some important and provocative ways forward.”

–Professor Michael Wesley, Director, Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University

About the Author

Andrew O’Neil is Senior Lecturer in the School of Political and International Studies, Flinders University, Australia. He is the author of a range of journal articles and book chapters and is a member of the Australian Foreign Minister’s National Consultative Committee for International Security Issues. Before taking up an academic position in 2000, he worked with Australia’s Department of Defence as an intelligence analyst.

Table of Contents

Northeast Asia’s Security Order

The Failing Strategy of Nuclear Nonproliferation

Can a Nuclear Armed North Korea Be Managed?

China and Japan: Is Nuclear Coexistance Possible?

Northeast Asia’s Nuclear Future: The Quest for Security

For the publication cited, see Lyle J. Goldstein and Andrew S. Erickson, eds., China’s Nuclear Force Modernization, Naval War College Newport Paper No. 22, 2005.