Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
Introduction: from domestic to international variables
The basic theoretical model introduced in Chapter 2 argues that nuclear weapons project efficiency is in large measure a function of the nuclear program’s level of scientific and technical professionalism, which in turn is a function of management and, ultimately, of state institutionalization. In Chapters 3 and 4, I demonstrated the power of this model to explain both Iraq’s nuclear failure and China’s nuclear success.
In Chapters 3 and 4 I also considered the impact of international nuclear assistance, a popular alternative hypothesis to explain the two countries’ nuclear progress. I found that both states did indeed benefit from their international ties, but much less than is often claimed. Iraq’s foreign purchasing sprees on the international black market allowed it to amass a great deal of useful equipment, but its management dysfunction prevented it from making better use of that equipment, and its increasingly wanton international procurement strategy ended up imperiling whatever progress it had been able to make. Meanwhile, China initially appeared to have hit the jackpot with its 1957 military nuclear cooperation deal with the Soviet Union, but their cooperation was soon derailed by the Sino-Soviet split, and the well-managed Chinese nuclear weapons project ended up achieving a brilliant success essentially on its own.