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Targeting Nuclear Programs in War and Peace: A Quantitative Empirical Analysis, 19412000

Author(s): Matthew Fuhrmann and Sarah E. Kreps


Source: The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 54, No. 6 (December 2010), pp. 831-859
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Journalof Conflict Resolution


54(6) 831-859
?The Author(s) 2010
Reprints and permission:
sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0022002710371671

Nuclear
Targeting
and
War
in
Programs
Peace: A Quantitative

http://jcr.sagepub.com

?)SAGE

Empirical Analysis,
1941-2000
Matthew

Fuhrmann

and Sarah

E. Kreps

Abstract
When do states attack or consider attacking nuclear infrastructure in nonnuclear
weapons states? Despite the importance of this question, relatively littlescholarly
research has considered when and why countries target nuclear programs. The
authors argue that states are likelyto attack or consider attacking nuclear facilities
when they are highly threatened by a particular country's acquisition of nuclear
weapons. Three factors increase the salience of the proliferation threat: (I) prior
violent militarized conflict; (2) the presence of a highlyautocratic proliferator; and
(3) divergent foreign policy interests. The authors test these propositions using
statistical analysis and a new data set on all instanceswhen countries have struck
or seriously considered strikingother states' nuclear infrastructurebetween 1941
and 2000. The findings lend support for the theory and very littlesupport for the
alternative explanations. States are not deterred from attacking nuclear programs
by the prospect of a military retaliation and concerns about international condem
nation do not appear to influence the willingness to strike. Ultimately, states are
willing to accept substantial costs inattacking ifthey believe that a particular country's
acquisition of nuclear weapons poses a significantthreat to their security.

1
Department

Department

of Political Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia,


of Government, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

Author:
Corresponding
Matthew Fuhrmann, University of South Carolina,

817 Henderson

SC, USA

St., Columbia,

Email: Fuhrmann@mailbox.sc.edu

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SC 29208, USA

832

Resolution54(6)
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Keywords
nuclear proliferation,war, preventive strikes,Osiraq

Introduction
In 1942, British commandos launched an attack against a suspected nuclear facility,
targeting theNorsk-Hydro heavy water plant inGerman-occupied Norway. This raid
represents the firstuse ofmilitary force to hinder nuclear proliferation, but itwas not
the only time thata nuclear program was targeted in the twentiethcentury.New data

collected for this article reveal thatfifteen separate attacks against nuclear facilities
occurred between 1942 and 2000 and attacks were seriously considered on fiftysep
arate occasions during thisperiod.1 Israeli air strikes against a Syrian reactor known
as al-Kibar in September 2007 and continued talk of attacks against Iranian nuclear
facilities indicate that some countries continue to view military force as a viable
instrumentof nonproliferation.
Why do states attack or consider attacking nuclear infrastructurein nonnuclear

states?Despite the importance of thisquestion and risks thataccompany this


option, relatively little scholarly research has considered when and why countries
literature on preventive war
target nuclear programs. There is a well-developed

weapon

(e.g., Levy 1987; Reiter 1995), but this research tends not to consider attacks against

nuclear

programs

in particular.

The

extant

nuclear

proliferation

literature

focuses

on

why states build nuclear weapons (e.g., Sagan 1996/1997; Singh and Way 2004;
Hymans 2006; Solingen 2007; Jo and Gartzke 2007; Fuhrmann 2009b; Kroenig
2009b) and the links between bomb possession and international conflict behavior
(e.g., Schelling 1966; Asal and Beardsley 2007; Gartzke and Jo 2009; Horowitz
2009; Rauchhaus 2009). Studies that examine strikes against nuclear facilities tend
to examine the consequences of attacks (e.g., Reiter 2006; Kreps and Fuhrmann
2010) rather than attacking states' motivations for using military force.
Existing research does, however, offer some clues as towhy statesmight resort to
force. Proliferation pessimists (e.g., Sagan 1994; Feaver 1997; see also Sagan and

Waltz

2003) argue that proliferation increases the likelihood that one state will
attack nuclear facilities in another state to prevent it from acquiring nuclear
weapons. Related research examines U.S. options for dealing with states that act
indefiance of thenonproliferation regime and cites theuse of force as one
possibility
for a risk-acceptant state committed to stopping proliferation (Feaver and Niou
1996). Other studies have sought to explain why states attacked or considered attack
ing nuclear facilities in particular cases. For example, scholars identify Israel's
decision to attack Iraq's Osirak facility in 1981 as a case inwhich Israel struck rather

than tolerate proliferation in its neighborhood (e.g., Feldman 1982; Snyder 1983;
Perlmutter,Handel, and Bar-Joseph 2003; Reiter 2005); other scholars reference the
United States' considered use of preemptive force against China's nuclear program

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Fuhrmann

833

and Kreps

in the early 1960s as a case inwhich Washington chose not to strikebecause of the
possibility of destabilization inAsia (e.g., Burr and Richelson 2000/2001; Goldstein
2006).
These studiesmake important contributions, but none can account for empirical
puzzles across the historical record of attacks. For example, they cannot fully
explain cross-national variation in states' willingness to attack nuclear infrastruc
ture, such as why Iran, Israel, and theUnited States have launched attacks against
or
Iraqi nuclear facilities but other countries with similar opportunities did not, why
Israel attacked nuclear facilities in Iraq and Syria but not inLibya or Pakistan. More

over, to our knowledge, no research has used large analysis to systematically analyze
both positive and negative cases, that is, both cases where forcewas used as well as
where itwas considered as an option but ultimately dismissed.2
In this article, we argue that countries are likely to attack or consider attacking
nuclear programs when they are highly threatened by a proliferator's acquisition
of the bomb. Three hypotheses stem from this argument: (1) violent conflict
increases the probability of targeting; (2) the likelihood of targetingdeclines as the
proliferator becomes more democratic; and (3) foreign policy similarity reduces the
probability targeting.Using statistical analysis and an original data set of attacks and
considered attacks against nuclear programs, we find considerable support for the
hypotheses. We also show that the relationship between prior violent conflict and
attacks against nuclear facilities is interestinglynuanced; conflict is statistically
related to strikeswhen the proliferating state is highly authoritarian but unrelated
to this outcome when the proliferator is a developed democracy.
The statistical analysis offersvery littlesupport for alternative explanations. Con
trary to the existing literatureon this topic (e.g., Feaver and Niou 1996; Goldstein
2006; Levy 2008), we find that fears of provoking a military response from thepro
are not particularly
liferating state and concerns about international condemnation

salient in deterring attacks against nuclear programs. The findings also show that
the bomb
operational feasibility and the proliferator's progress toward developing
have little effect on the targetingof nuclear programs. States are ultimately willing
to accept substantial costs in attacking if they believe that a particular country's
to
acquisition of nuclear weapons poses a serious threat their security.
This article proceeds by defining attacks and considered attacks against nuclear
facilities in non-nuclear weapon states and discussing the new data set. Next, we
or
nuclear pro
develop our argument on when statesmay target consider targeting
We
then
it.
from
flow
that
three
testable
and
present our
hypotheses
grams
identifying
the
statistical
and
discuss
test
to
these
findings. The
hypotheses
empirical strategy
of our study.
contributions
and
assesses
the
conclusion
policy
empirical, theoretical,

Definitions

and the Universe

of Cases

Rather than conceiving of a decision to use force as a dichotomous variable, we


no interest inmilitary
conceptualize it along a continuum with three stages: (1)

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action; (2) consideration of an attack; and (3) an actual attack. Studying raids against
nuclear programs in thisway is appropriate because it is consistent with how states
decide to use force. States thatultimately resort tomilitary force begin by consider
ingwhether it is a viable option and by making preparations to engage in it. Some

statesmake preparations forusing force but ultimately do not,while others proceed


with an attack. This conception of attacks against nuclear programs is also useful
because it allows us to generate additional leverage on our research question, since
considered attacks aremore common than actual attacks. Furthermore, italso allows
us to examine whether the determinants of each stage of force are similar, which
could shed additional light on the circumstances under which stateswill use force
in pursuit of nonproliferation objectives.
We define attacks as the state-sanctioned use of force against materials, commod
ities, or infrastructurerelated to a nuclear weapons program thathas the intentionof
delaying a country's acquisition of nuclear bombs.3 To qualify as a case of force, a
state's military personnel or equipment (e.g., aircraft) must have been directly
involved in the attack; states thatprovided overflight rights or were coalition mem
bers that did not directly participate in the attack against nuclear facilities are not
included.4 In principle, attacks can be limitedmilitary strikes (e.g., Israel's 1981
strikes against Iraq), occur as part of a broader campaign to initiate an all-out war
(e.g., U.S. strikes during the 1991 Persian Gulf War) or emerge as an aim during
an ongoing armed conflict (e.g., Allied attacks against Germany duringWorld War
II). Intrawar and peacetime strikesmay have differentmotivations, but as Reiter
(2006, 29) notes, "intrawar cases are important,both because they offer lessons
... and because intrawar
preventive strikes against [nuclear, biological, or chemi
cal] programs are possible in the future."

For the purposes of this study, attacking statesmust intend to thwart the target's
ability to build nuclear weapons; we are not interested in cases where states used
force to reverse proliferation after a country had assembled at least one nuclear
weapon. Once a country acquires nuclear weapons, decisions to attack nuclear pro
grams are fundamentally altered because it is possible for nuclear weapons to be

used in retaliation against the attacking state (Feaver and Niou 1996). Thus, we
exclude U.S. responses to the Soviet nuclear program in the 1950s because attacks
were considered afterMoscow had already acquired nuclear weapons. We also

exclude uses of force intended to delay proliferation ifnuclear materials, commod


were not targeted. For example, we do not include attempts to
ities, or infrastructure
interdictnuclear-related commodities or materials destined for countries of prolif

eration

concern.

As noted above, states can take steps toward using forcewithout actually attack
ing.We identifythree actions thatconstitute serious consideration of attacks against
nuclear programs.5 The first is if a leader or cabinet-level official
gives political
authorization touse military force but nuclear facilities are not attacked. This ismost

likely to occur if leaders change theirminds or veto authorizations made by a lower


level officials. For instance, in the 1980s, Indian Prime Minister Indhira Gandhi

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Fuhrmann

835

and Kreps

authorized air strikes against Pakistan's main uranium enrichment plant at Kahuta
but later reversed thisdecision (Franz and Collins 2007). It is also possible foropera
tional constraints to stymie the effective use ofmilitary force. Egypt, for example,
planned to strikean Israeli nuclear facility in the 1967 Six Day War butwas defeated
militarily before it could execute the raid (Ginor and Remez 2007).
The second action that constitutes serious consideration of military force is a

request for cooperation from another country in attacking a third state's nuclear
facilities. Such an overture typically occurs when one statewould like to attack a
proliferatorbut requires logistical support from another country to execute an effec
tivemilitary operation. For instance, between 1979 and 1987, Israel requested coop
eration from India in attacking Pakistani nuclear facilities because operational
success depended on the use of bases in India for launching and refueling (Ganguly
and Hagerty 2005). Countries may also request cooperation from another state to

blunt the potential consequences of attacks. The United States requested assistance
from the Soviet Union in attacking Chinese nuclear installations during the early
involvementwould deter a violent
1960s because Washington hoped thatMoscow's
of East-West relations
the
further
deterioration
and
limit
from
response
Peking
stateA would approach
it
In
that
is
Richelson
and
short,
unlikely
2000/2001).
(Burr
stateB regarding joint strikes against stateC unless stateA had a serious interest in

using military force.


The thirdaction constituting a considered attack is theprivate advocacy of strikes
by leaders or cabinet-level officials during internal deliberations or in discussions
with foreign officials who are also considering military action. Several aspects of
this criterionwarrant elaboration. Most fundamentally, discussions must go beyond
themere mention of military action and take the form of advocacy for the use of
force. The United States' approach toward South Africa in the late 1970s, for
instance, would not qualify as a considered use of force. American officials dis
cussed military action inmeetings with Soviet officials but there is no evidence that
President JimmyCarter or any member of his cabinet supported this policy at any

time (Albright 1994). Contrast this case with Taiwan's response toChina's nuclear
program in the early 1960s, which is coded as a case of considered force on thebasis
of this criterion.Not only did Taiwanese officials discuss the possibility of raiding
Beijing's key nuclear facilities but at least one senior official privately advocated for
military action. During a visit toWashington in September 1963, General Chiang
for strikes against nuclear Chinese
Kai-shek's son?lobbied
Ching-kuo?Chiang

nuclear facilities in private meetings with U.S. officials, including President John
F. Kennedy and National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy (Richelson and Burr

2000/2001).

Moreover, advocacy of military forcemust not be limited to public rhetoric; it


must take place in private internaldeliberations or in private discussions with for
to
eign officials who are also considering strikes.This requirement is intended guard
...
as
intent"
the con
not
in
real
to
referred
"talk,
against what McGeorge Bundy
textofmilitary action against nuclear programs (Burr and Richelson 2000/2001,54).

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There are a few strategic reasons why leaders might use bellicose rhetoricwithout
having any intentionof acting. They might hope to influence thebehavior of thepro
liferatingcountry.Harsh rhetoricmay be nothing more than an attempt to curtail a
state's nuclear weapons ambitions or deter itfrom acting aggressively.6 Threats to
use military forcemight also be intended to influence thirdparty states. InAugust
2007, French President Nicolas Sarkozy made veiled threats against Iran's nuclear
program but this was an attempt to highlight the urgent need for a diplomatic
solution not an expression of genuine French interest in attacking Tehran. Finally,

leaders might advocate military action to appease domestic audiences. Egyptian


President Nasser threatened to destroy Israel's nuclear infrastructurebefore that
"base of aggression ... is used against us" during a speech in December 1960
(Cohen 1998, 244). This statementwas primarily intended towin points domesti
cally using tough language with Israel (Cohen 1998, 261). Leaders cannot generate
these international or domestic benefits if they advocate military action in private.
A final aspect worth emphasizing is that advocacy ofmilitary action must come
from cabinet-level officials as opposed to lower level officials or public intellectuals.
For example, as theOpposition leader in the late 1940s,Winston Churchill advo
cated for preventive strikes against the Soviet Union. This is not an indication that

Britain seriously considered military force, since individuals outside decision


making positions sometimes "indulge themselves with speculations thatwould be
regarded as impossibly irresponsible when they held power" (Quester 2000, 48).
Indeed, there is no evidence thatChurchill similarly advocated for preventive mili
tary action against the Soviets during his tenure as prime minister.
The three actions discussed above (i.e., decisions to attack, requests for cooper
ation, and private advocacy for strikes) set the bar high in termsofwhat we classify
as a considered attack, allowing us to identify instances where military action was
genuinely considered. We exclude other, less costly actions that could also be inter
preted as preparations formilitary strikes. For example, we do not consider the
development of contingency plans or intelligence collection on nuclear-related tar
gets as indicators that attacks were seriously considered. Countries often collect
intelligence or draw up plans formilitary action because theywant to be prepared
for potential future scenarios?not because they are preparing for strikes.
Based on the criteria discussed above, we collect new data on the instanceswhere

countries have attacked or considered attacking nuclear infrastructurebetween 1941


and 2000. To identifythese cases, we began by consulting a database compiled by the

Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) that includes detailed informationon states' nuclear
weapons programs. We also consulted existing literatures on preventive attacks
(e.g., Reiter 2006) and nuclear proliferation (e.g., Sagan and Waltz 2003), which
sometimes include lists of cases where forcewas considered and/orused. Historical
studies of states' nuclear programs (e.g., Perkovich 1999) were also useful because
they typically discuss how other countries responded to each instance of proliferation.
Whenever possible, we consulted primary sources such as declassified national
security documents dealing with internaldeliberations in the attacking country.

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Fuhrmann

Table

837

and Kreps

I.

Cases

Where

States

Considered

1941-2000
Attacking

Target State

State

Attacking

Years Considered Attacking

Nuclear

Facilities,

Years Attacked

Israel1967

Egypt

IndiaPakistan
Iran

1982,

Iraq 1980
Iran
Iraq

Norway
Pakistan

Germany
India1984

South Korea

North

Soviet Union

1984,

1986-1987

1980
1984-1988
1979, 1981

1984-1988

Israel
Iraq
IsraelPakistan

1977-1981
1979, 1982-1984,
1941-1944

Korea

1991,

1986-1987

1942-1944

1993-1994

Israel 1967

Soviet Union

South Africa

Taiwan

China 1963

United Kingdom

Germany

1941-1945

United

States

China

1961,

United

States

Germany

1942-1945

UnitedKingdom

United States
United

or Attacked

States

1976

1998
Iraq

Iraq

North

1942-1945
1998

1963-1964

1990-1991, 1993, 1998

Korea

1943, 1945
1991, 1993, 1998

1994

We identifyeighteen dyads where attacks were considered over fiftydyad years.


A total of twelve different states gave serious consideration to attacking, suggesting
that this is not something thatonly one or two "rogue" states contemplate.We also
identify twenty-one dyad years where attacks occurred involving six different
attacking

states. Of

the states

that at least explored

nuclear

weapons,

12 percent

were

attacked at some point and each country thatwas targeted experienced multiple
attacks against its facilities. The dyads and years where forcewas used or considered
are listed in table 1.We provide more detailed informationon all of these cases, cod
ing rules, and the sources we consulted in three online appendices.7

Theory

and Hypotheses

One of the reasons why proliferation is threatening is because it thought to raise the
risk of nuclear war (e.g., Jervis 1989; Sagan andWaltz 2003). This remains a pre
valent concern despite thewell-known military and normative costs associated with
thefirstuse of nuclear weapons (e.g., Betts 1987; Tannenwald 2007). Another rea

son why nuclear proliferation is threatening is that it reduces bargaining leverage


(e.g., Schelling 1966). State A may be forced tomake concessions in disputes with
stateB if thatcountry acquires nuclear weapons because the expected costs of armed
conflict would be prohibitively high. Indeed, Asal and Beardsley (2007) find that
states are less likely to obtain their desired outcome and convince their opponent
to back down in a crisis if the opponent possesses nuclear weapons.

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838

These consequences do not imply that states will rush to target suspected
proliferators. One reason is that there are costs associated with attacking nuclear
facilities. Perhaps most troublesome for the attacking state is the possibility that the
targetcountrywould respondmilitarily by launching air strikes against nuclear facil
itiesor other strategic sites in the attacking state.The result could be a protractedwar.
U.S. policy makers certainly recognized thispossibility when discussing raids against
Chinese nuclear complexes during the 1960s (see Burr and Richelson 2000/2001).
According to Secretary of State Dean Rusk: "The [Chinese] reactionwould be violent
and would result essentially in the employment of theirprincipal weapon, theirenor

mous manpower, in offensive retaliatoryoperations beyond theirborders. In this con


nection we could not employ U.S. manpower to resist such an action" (Goldstein
2006, 71). As Israel's September 2007 raid against Syria's nuclear reactor illustrates,
targetingnuclear programs does not always provoke amilitary response but it is a pos
sibility that any prudent aggressormust consider.
Attacking countries might also face diplomatic and economic isolation because
there is an international norm against preventive uses of force (e.g., Levy 2008).
On the specific issue of targeting nuclear facilities, Article 56 of Protocol
I Additional to theGeneva Conventions (1977) states that "works or installations

containing dangerous forces, [including] nuclear electrical generating stations, shall


not be made the object of attack, even where these objects aremilitary objectives, if
such attackmay cause the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses
among the civilian population" (see Goldblat 2002, 164-165). States are aware of
these related norms and sensitive to the risks of international condemnation. For
example, the chief of operations for the Indian Air Force advised against attacking
Pakistan's uranium enrichment plant atKahuta during the 1980s because "the inter
national communitywould condemn us ... India would not be able to get away with
[attacking]" (Ramberg 2006, 53). Similarly, Shimon Peres, the leading opposition
candidate in Israel's 1981 elections, opposed the raid against Iraqi nuclear facilities
on the grounds that the attack would violate an international norm and leave Israel
isolated "like a tree in the desert" (Perlmutter,Handel, and Bar-Joseph 2003, 59).
These costs are potentially substantial. Thus, we argue thatcountries are, on aver
age, more likely to accept the costs of strikingonly if they are highly threatened by
theproliferator's acquisition of nuclear weapons. The strategic consequences of pro
liferationare not evenly distributed across all states, however, so some countrieswill

be more concerned about proliferation than others (see Kroenig 2009a). Whether a
statewill fear proliferation enough to consider military force depends on itsbilateral
relationship with the proliferator as well as the institutional characteristics of the
country attempting to build nuclear weapons.

ViolentMilitarized Conflict
Violent militarized conflict is the factormost likely to influence states' perceptions
of whether the proliferating country will use nuclear weapons and whether

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Fuhrmann

839

and Kreps

reduce bargaining leverage. If state A initiates a nuclear


after experiencing violent conflict with state B, state B might
the intended target of stateA's bomb. For example, Indian offi
that itwas the target of Pakistan's weapons program, which
in
the
immediate
aftermath of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 (Perkovich
began
India
considered attacking Pakistani nuclear facilities on a
1999). Consequently,
number of occasions during the 1980s (Sagan and Waltz 2003). Additionally, if
stateA had a weapons program prior to conflict with state B or began a program

proliferation will
weapons program
perceive that it is
cials were aware

during the conflict, state B might fear that the bomb, if acquired, would be used
against it to resolve the issues at the heart of the dispute. For example, theUnited
States and Britain recognized the need to attack key German nuclear installations
because Germany's nuclear weapons program was intended to produce a bomb for

use duringWorld War II. Referring to theGerman campaign to produce an atomic


bomb, Winston Churchill stated "it would be unforgivable ifwe let theGermans
develop a process ahead of us by means of which they could defeat us inwar or
reverse the verdict after they had been defeated" (Goudsmit 1996, 7-8).
Past violent conflict also heightens concerns about the loss of bargaining leverage
by increasing the likelihood of future crises ormilitarized disputes (e.g., Diehl and

Goertz 2000). Israel might have opposed Syria's acquisition of nuclear weapons, for
instance, because the conflict-prone relationship over the last thirtyyears raises the
prospect of futuredisputes where potential economic, political, or diplomatic influ
ence over Damascus would be especially valuable. If Syria were to build nuclear

weapons, Israel's ability to exercise this leverage might be reduced. The preceding
logic leads to the firsthypothesis:
Hypothesis

1: States

are more

likely

programs of states with which

to attack

or consider

attacking

the nuclear

they recently experience violent militarized

conflict.

Proliferator's
Regime Type
The proliferating state's regime type also affectswhether itmight resort to offensive
behavior such as the use of the bomb. Scholars have argued thatdemocratic norms
and institutionsconstrain leaders and are associated with a high degree of transpar
ency (e.g., Russett 1993; Dixon 1994; Bueno deMesquita et al. 1999; Schultz 1999).
Since non-democratic leaders are less accountable to domestic constituencies, they

may be more inclined to threaten stateswith nuclear weapons, sell weapon technol
ogy to other states or non-state actors, or actually use nuclear bombs against an
adversary despite the "nuclear taboo" (Tannenwald 2007). When states fear that
these types of activities are possible and lack reassurance to the contrarybecause the
suspected proliferator's decision making is opaque, they aremore likely to use force
to prevent proliferation. For example, U.S. National Security Advisor Brent
Scowcroft stated thatSaddam Hussein's "notoriously mercurial" behavior provided

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840

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additional incentives to end the Iraqi nuclear program during the 1990-1991 Persian
Gulf War (Bush and Scowcroft 1998, 306-307).
Israel's raid on Osiraq is also revealing. Israel decided to attack Iraq's nuclear
program in 1981 largely because itperceived that the Iraqi bomb would eventually
be used against it (e.g., Feldman 1982; Snyder 1983; Perlmutter et al. 2003). Israeli
officials emphasized that the threatof an Iraqi bomb was magnified because Saddam
Hussein's regime was dictatorial, unpredictable, and lacked transparency regarding
and intentions (Feldman 1982). Defense Minister Ariel Sharon
cannot afford the introduction of the nuclear weapon [in Iraq].
"Israel
proclaimed,
For us, it is not a question of balance of terrorbut a question of survival" (Snyder
1983, 583).
capabilities

Hypothesis 2: States are more likely to attack or consider attacking nondemo


cratic stateswith nuclear programs.

ForeignPolicySimilarity
The likelihood that stateswill feel threatenedby a proliferator could also be contin
gent on the congruence of theirforeign policy interests.Even if states do not believe
thatnuclear weapons would be used inwar, theymay also be sufficiently threatened
to consider attacking if theybelieve that theirfuturebargaining leverage will be con
strained (Levy 2008). U.S. decision making on possible attacks against China during
the early 1960s illustrates thatfears about the loss of political leverage can influence
a country's willingness to attack. State Department officials argued in July 1963 that
a Chinese nuclear capability was unlikely tobe "used as an umbrella for aggression"
but stillworried thata Chinese bomb would weaken U.S. leverage (Burr and Richel
son 2000/2001, 76). According to declassified documents, "Communist China will
try ... to use itsnuclear capability toweaken thewill ofAsian countries ... to put

political pressure on theU.S. military presence in the area; and to obtain support for
Chinese claims to status as a world power" (United States 1964).
A statemight notworry about losing leverage with states that share foreign policy
interestsbecause future disagreements, tensions, or crises are relatively unlikely.

However, states with divergent interests can expect to disagree over contentious
issues. Therefore, if stateA and stateB have dissimilar interestsand stateB acquires
nuclear weapons, stateA would lose leverage and be less able to advance its future
interests.Under such circumstances, stateA might be willing touse military force to
prevent state B from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Hypothesis 3: States are more likely to attack or consider attacking the nuclear
programs of states thathave dissimilar foreign policy interests.

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Fuhrmann

Table

2.

841

and Kreps

Dates

of Nuclear Weapon

Programs

for Non-Nuclear

States,

Weapon

Years

Country

1983-2000
1968- 1990
1956-1973
1953- 1990
1955-1964
1946-1960
1941- 1945
1954- 1988
1984-2000
1976-2003
1949-1971
1943-1945
1965-2003
1959-1978
1970-2000
1972-1987
1985- 1990
1969- 1979
1943-1949
1945- 1969
1946-1970
1967-1977; 1987-1988
1947- 1952
1942- 1945
1954-1965; 1974-1988

Algeria
Argentina
Australia
Brazil
China
France
Germany
India
Iran
Iraq
Israel
Japan
Korea,

North

Korea,

South

Libya

Pakistan
Romania
South Africa
Soviet Union
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
United
United

1941-2000

Kingdom
States

Yugoslavia

The end dates indicate that the state either acquired nuclear weapons
(in the cases of China,
France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the
United States) or ended their nuclear weapons programs. Coding is based on the measure of Singh and
Way
(2004) whether a country is at least "exploring" nuclear weapons. Dates prior to 1945 are taken
from Jo and Gartzke (2007).
Note:

Research

Design

Data and Dependent Variables


adopt a standard time-series cross-section data structurewith the directed dyad
year as the unit of analysis.8 The estimation sample includes twenty-fiveproliferat
ing countries and theirpolitically relevant counterparts.9 To determine which states
explored nuclear weapons, we consulted proliferation data compiled by Singh and
Way (2004) and Jo and Gartzke (2007).10 The states that explored nuclear weapons
and the years they are included in the sample are listed in table 2. As we described

We

above, we use two dependent variables (see appendices A-C for furtherdetails).
Attack is a dummy variable that is coded 1 ifa state attacked a proliferating country

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Resolution54(6)
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842

inyear tand 0 otherwise. Considered attack is a dummy variable that is coded 1 ifa
state seriously considered attacking a proliferating country inyear tand 0 otherwise.

IndependentVariables
Three independent variables are used to test our hypotheses. As a measure of
whether states in a dyad are involved inviolent militarized conflictwe create violent
conflict,which is a dichotomous variable that equals 1 if they are involved in an
? 1
involving the use of
ongoing militarized interstate dispute (MID) in year t
force.11We consult theCorrelates ofWar (COW) data (Ghosn, Palmer, and Bremer
2004) to code thismeasure.12 To code the target state's regime type,we rely on data
from thePolity IV project (Marshall and Jaggers 2007). We include target's polity,
?
which measures the target's Polity score in year t
l.13 Finally, as a measure of
foreign policy similarity,we use the S-score of Signorino and Ritter (1999), which

measures

the similarity of states' foreign policy positions based on alliance portfo


lios and United Nations voting.14 Foreign policy similarity represents each dyad's
S-score, which ranges from 0 to 1with higher scores indicatingmore similar inter
ests,

in year

l.15

ControlVariables
We control for other factors that could affect attacks and considered attacks against
nuclear programs. One of themost prominent arguments (e.g., Feaver and Niou
1996; Levy 2008) is thatcountries aremore willing to attack nuclear programs when
they expect a limitedmilitary response and avoid such attacks when they expect a
massive response. We include two variables to control for this argument. Target's
power measures the capabilities of the target state based on thewidely used COW

composite indicator of national capability (CINC) scores (Singer, Bremer, and


Stuckey 1972). This variable takes on the value of the target state's CINC score,
which ranges from 0 to 1, in year t- 1. The expectation is that the likelihood of
attacking declines as the capabilities of the target state increase. The power ratio
between the attacking and target states could also affect the likelihood of a military
response from the target.Even if the target state is capable of respondingmilitarily,
itmight refrain if the attacking state is notably stronger than it to avoid theprospect
of a war it is likely to lose (see Bremer 1992). Power ratio is the attacking state's

CINC score divided by the target state's CINC score.


We code two variables to control for the argument that internationalnorms influ
ence states' willingness to targetnuclear programs. As we discussed above, Article

56 of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions prohibits attacks against


nuclear facilities.We create a dichotomous variable, Article 56, that is coded 1 if the
year is after 1977 and 0 otherwise. During the cold war, superpower politics often
shaped institutions such as theUnited Nations thatwould sanction states for attack
ing nuclear facilities or violating nonintervention norms by launching preventive

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Fuhrmann

843

and Kreps

strikes.Consequently, we might expect thatnorms would have a stronger effect on


states' willingness to consider strikes in the post-cold war era.16Post-cold war is a
dichotomous variable coded 1 if the year is greater than 1991 and 0 otherwise.
How close the target state is to developing nuclear weapons could influence
states' willingness to attack or consider attacking (e.g., Feaver and Niou 1996). If
states are years away from building the bomb, countries might calculate that an
attack is unnecessary. However, responding to a proliferator becomes more critical
as it develops the technological capacity to produce fissile material (e.g., highly
enriched uranium or plutonium) for nuclear weapons. We include program years,

is a count of the number of years the nuclear weapons program has been
active.We also measure a state's progress toward developing nuclear weapons using
data on bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation agreements compiled by Fuhrmann

which

(2009a, 2009b).17 Nuclear assistance is a variable measuring the cumulative number


of these agreements the target state has received as of year t? 1. This measure is
appropriate because states often acquire theknowledge and capacity required topro
duce nuclear bombs as a result of peaceful nuclear assistance (Fuhrmann 2009a,
2009b).18
Additionally, we account for the operational feasibility of attacking a nuclear pro
gram and the target state's progress toward developing nuclear weapons. Including
only politically relevant dyads in our sample helps control for operational feasibility.

include two additional variables. Contiguity is a dichotomous variable that is


coded 1 if the target and attacking states share a land border and 0 otherwise and
?
attacker's power is the attacking state's CINC score in year t
l.19
Finally, to account for temporal dependence, we include the controls recom
mended by Beck, Katz, and Tucker (1998). Our analyses include variables?no con

We

sider years

and no attack

years?that

count

the number

of years

that pass

in between

considered attacks and attacks, respectively, along with three cubic splines.

Method
We firstexplore cross-tabulations of attacks and considered attacks against the three
independent variables relevant to our argument. This simple analysis is useful
because it sheds light on the strengthand subtlety of underlying relationships.
Then, we turn to statistical analysis to determine whether the bivariate relation
shipswe identifyhold up once we account for confounding variables. The phenom
ena we are studying?attacks and considered attacks against nuclear programs?are
rare occurrences. Since standard techniques such as logit or probit generate biased
coefficients when applied to rare events, we use rare events logit, an estimator

designed to cope with thisproblem.20 This estimator is appropriate when researchers


use binary dependent variables with thousands of times fewer ones than zeros (King
and Zeng 2001). Attacks and considered attacks occur in .33 percent and .73 percent
of the observations in our sample, respectively?well within the ratio of ones to
zeros that is suitable for rare events logit.We use robust standard errors clustered

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Resolution54(6)
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844

Table

3.

Tabulations

Cross

of

Independent

Attacks, 1941-2000
A. Violent

Variables

against

No
Attack

No
Yes

X2-

151.21;p: < .0001

B. Target's

Conflict
Yes

4,821
(99.73%)
13

499

(.27%)

(5.13%)

Yes

No

Attack

(94.87%)
27

No
Yes

%2

127.60; p: <

4,832
(99.96%)
2

510

(.04%)

(3.04%)

.0001

Attack

No
Yes

%2=
C.

18.92; p: <

.0001

Low

High

2,965
(98.8%)

2,355
(99.83%)

(1.2%)

(.17%)

Polity

Attack

No

36 4 Yes
%2=

14.20; p <

Low

High

2,983
(99.4%)
18

2,359
(99.94%)
0

(.60%)

(0.0%)

.0001

Foreign Policy Similarity


Similarity

Considered

X2

(96.96%)
16

Polity

Polity

Considered

and

Conflict

Conflict

Considered

Attacks

Considered

Attack

Low

High

No

2,073

3,247

Yes

(98.9%)
23

(99.48%)
17

(1.1%)

(.52%)

5.73; p:.0\7

Similarity

Attack

Low

High

No

2,082

3,260

Yes

(99.33%)
14

(99.88%)
4

(.67%)

(.12%)

11.3-4; p: <

.001

by dyad to control for heteroskedastic error variance. All independent variables are
lagged one year behind thedependent variable to control forpossible simultaneitybias.

Results
Table 3 displays simple cross-tabulations of the independent variables against con
sidered attacks and attacks on nuclear programs.21 The table reveals preliminary
support in favor of the threehypotheses and indicates that the relationships between
the independent variables and attacks are probabilistic, not deterministic. This
simple analysis also underscores

that attacks and considered attacks are rare

occurrences.

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Fuhrmann

845

and Kreps

Table 3A reveals that while attacks and considered attacks are much more
common when preceded by violent conflict,not all conflicts lead to strikes.Roughly

5 percent (27) of the dyad years preceded by conflict experience considered attacks
while only .27 percent (13) of dyad years preceded by peace face considered strikes.
Likewise, attacks occurred in about 3 percent (16) of the dyad years preceded by
conflict and only .04 percent (2) of the dyad years not preceded by conflict. This
reveals that almost all raids against nuclear programs occur following violent
militarized conflict.However, even themost extreme form of violent conflict,war,
does not always produce attacks against nuclear programs. For instance, nuclear pro
grams were not targeted during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 or during the 1962
Sino-Indian War. This raises questions about the relationship between war and
attacks against nuclear facilities, which we explore furtherbelow.

As Table 3B reveals, states have greater interest in attacking nondemocratic states


than democratic states. Only .17 percent (4) of the dyad years including a prolifer
ating state with a high polity score experience considered attacks compared to
1.2 percent (36) of dyad years including a proliferating statewith a low polity score.
More striking,all eighteen of the dyad years where attacks occurred included a pro
liferatingcountrywith a low polity score, although not all nondemocratic prolifera
torswere attacked; .60 percent of the dyad years including a countrywith a low

polity score experienced attacks. Table 3C reveals strong empirical support for the
proposition that foreign policy divergence affects decisions to attack nuclear pro
grams. Of the dyad years including stateswith dissimilar foreign policy interests,
attackswere considered in 1.1 percent (23) versus .52percent (17) of the dyad years
including stateswith similar interests.Similarly, the vastmajority (14 of 18) of dyad
years where an attack occurred included states with dissimilar foreign policy
interests.

The next step is to determine whether the relationships suggested by table 3 hold
when controlling for the factors thought to influence attacks against nuclear pro
grams. Table 4 displays the initial results of themultivariate statistical analysis.22
Models 1-3 use considered attack as the dependent variable.23 Model 1 is a baseline
model thatonly includes the threevariables testing thehypotheses and the controls
for temporal dependence. Model 2 is a fullmodel that includes all of the explanatory
and control variables. Model 3 excludes variables that are determinants of violent
conflict24Models 4-6 mirror models 1-3 except that theyuse attack as the depen

dent variable. Table 4 also lists the substantive effects produced by each of the sta
tistically significant variables using a program developed by Tomz, King, and Zeng
(1999). To interpretsubstantive effects,we compute the relative risk for each signif
icant variable. The relative risk refers to the probability of an event in the treatment

group divided by the probability of an event in the control group.25


The statistical results presented in table 4 lend furthersupport to the threehypoth
eses. The multivariate statistical analysis offers support for the argument that states
attack nuclear programs when the fear that the proliferating statemight use nuclear
weapons, engage in other types of offensive behavior, or be unpredictable. Violent

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(continued)
16.21

7.06

0.94

52.11

0.70

0.98

5.19

0.56

Relative

(6)
DV:

1.09

Risk:

3.694***

1.08

0.31

0.636
2.972***

(1.022)

DV:

ks

0.53

(0.053)

Relative
(0.897) (0.635)-0.052 (0.050)
-0.097*

Risk:

-0.035 3.990**
7.197**
(1.596)
16.738**
0.254
(1.184)
(0.043) (3.361)-0.185
(0.084)-0.064
(0.539)-0.101
(1.006)-0.089
(7.366) (0.054)
(0.098) (0.661)
-1.486**

2.845***

Consider
Attack
Consider
Attack

(1.030)
3.395***

-1.466**

(0.109) (0.579)
-0.131

Attacks
and
Considered

against
2.478***

Nuclear

Programs,
1941-2000
1.793***
0.039
(0.599) (0.453) (0.029) (0.021)
-0.865*
-0.067***

(0.579)

1.917***
(0.602) (0.035) (0.443)
-0.060*-0.826*

6.718*

-1.184**
0.062
1.643***

-0.980***
(0.295)

7.381**
(0.032)

(3.853)-0.003
(0.027) (0.572) (0.549) (0.039)-0.050

(0.403)
2.447*** -0.088***

0.462
(3.589) (0.761)-0.876***
(0.306)

(0.290)

(0.609) (0.032)
-0.734*

-0.883***

Violent
conflict
Explanatory
variables
polity Foreign
Target's
power
policy
ratio
Target'sPower
56
similarity
Controls

No
years
consider
Attacker's
power
Post-cold
war Program
years
Contiguity
Nuclear
assistance

Article

000'

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Attack
Relative
Risk:

Consider
Relative
Risk:

-0.698*
0.005
(6)
DV: Attack (0.390) (0.017)
-0.011

-7.430***
(2.075)

-0.002

0.006
(0.016) (0.012) (0.003)
-0.503 -0.009

Attack

5,360

5,360
(1.326)
Note:
Robust
standard
errors
in
parentheses;
*significant
at
10
percent;
significant
5**
percent;
at ***
significant
at
Ipercent.
Relative
risk
calculations
are
based
0.007
(0.423)
(0.017)
(0.013)
(0.004)
-0.642 -0.011
-0.002
-5.726***

-4.230***
5,444

(3)
DV:

0.010*
(0.009)
(0.006)-0.001
(0.001) (0.641)
-0.020**

Consider

DV:
(2)

5,444

(0.014)-0.001

DV: Attack (0.425)


(5)

DV:
(4)

(1.103)
(0.004) -6.046***

Consider

-0.018**
0.009*
5,360
(0.001)
(0.009) (0.005)-0.001
-5.188***
(1.539)

(l)DV:
Consider

5,360
0.010*
(0.006)-0.001
(0.002) (0.674)
(0.009)
-0.019**
-4.018***

(continued)
4
Table
No
attack
years
Spline
I
Spline
2
3
Spline

2and
models
5.
on
Constant
Observations

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848

Resolution54(6)
JournalofConflict

conflict is statistically and negatively related to both attacks and considered attacks.
Substantively, the relative risk of violent conflict is 7.06 for considered attacks and
16.21 for attacks. This means thatmilitarized conflict increases the likelihood of
having a considered attack by 606 percent and an actual attack by 1,521 percent. The
lattereffect is extraordinarily large,which makes sense when one considers that 89
percent of attacks against nuclear programs were preceded by violent conflict. Table
4 also indicates that there is a statistically significant relationship between target's

polity and considered attacks in the negative direction, suggesting that states are
more likely to seriously think about striking less democratic proliferators.26 The
relationship between the target's regime type and considered attacks is also substan
tively strong; increases in this independent variable lower the probability of a con
sidered raid by about 44 percent. Note, however, that target's polity is statistically
insignificant across models 4-6, indicating that there is not a significant relationship
between actual attacks and theproliferator's regime type.Below, we explore the rea
sons for this finding in greater detail.
The coefficient on the variable measuring foreign policy similarity is negative

and statistically significant in each model. The relationship between foreign policy
similarity and both stages of targetingnuclear programs is also substantively strong.
Increases in this independent variable reduce the probability of a considered attack
within a dyad by 30 percent and the lower the likelihood of an attack by 55 percent.
These results lend furthersupport to the argument that states attack nuclear programs
when theyworry about the loss of political leverage.
The control variables shed interesting lighton attacks against nuclear programs.
We find some evidence that contradicts the argument that states refrain from attack
ing nuclear programs because theyworry about therisk of retaliation. Strong states
are actually more likely to be attacked thanweak states. The relative risk of target's
power is .98,which means that increasing thevalue of thisvariable from itsmean to
its 75th percentile decreases the likelihood of an attack by 2 percent. Power ratio is
statisticallyunrelated to both considered attacks and attacks. The results likewise do
not offermuch support in favor of the argument that international norms influence
the targetingof nuclear programs. Article 56 is positive and statistically significant
across all models, indicating that states were more likely to attack and consider

attacking after an internationalnorm against strikingnuclear facilities was instituted


in 1977. The coefficient on the variable measuring post-cold war is negative and
statistically significant inmodels 2 and 3,which could suggest that thenorm did not

influence considered attacks until the collapse of the bipolar international system.
There is not a statistically significant relationship between the end of the cold war
and actual attacks against nuclear facilities.
A proliferator's progress toward developing the bomb does not appear to be sali
ent in explaining the targeting of nuclear programs. Program years is
statistically
unrelated to both attacks and considered attacks.Nuclear assistance is negative and

statistically significant inmodels 3 and 6, contrary to expectations, but thisfinding is


sensitive tomodel specification. In terms of operational feasibility, we find that

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Fuhrmann

849

and Kreps

attacker's power is statistically related to considered attacks and actual raids.


Increases in attacker's power raise the likelihood of considered attacks and attacks
by 8 percent and 9 percent, respectively. However, there is not a statistically rela
tionship between contiguity and either stage of targetingnuclear programs.

FurtherAnalysisof ViolentConflictand Attacks againstNuclear Programs


These results show that prior militarized conflict has a salient effect on attacks
against nuclear programs. States rarely launch so-called bolt from the blue attacks
in peacetime, even if they give serious consideration to raiding nuclear facilities.
Indeed, table 1 shows that 76 percent of all attacks occurred in the context of an
interstatewar and another 14 percent were preceded by some form of violent con
flict.This means that only about 10 percent of attacks occur in peacetime. This is
consistentwith our argument because war magnifies the threatassociated with a pro

liferator's nuclear weapons program. The presence of violent militarized conflict,


however, cannot fullyaccount forvariation in attacks against nuclear programs since
nuclear programs were not targeted during all wars where attacks were theoretically
possible.
To obtain amore complete understanding of thenexus between prior violent con
flictand attacks against nuclear facilities, we explore whether another factor condi
tions this relationship. We hypothesized above that the likelihood of an attack
increases as targetsbecome less democratic. Although target's polity did not obtain
conventional levels of statistical significance in themultivariate analysis reported in
table 4, the cross-tabulation analysis in table 3 showed thatdemocracies have never

had theirfacilities attacked.27 It is plausible, therefore,that the target's regime type


conditions the relationship between prior violent conflict and attacks against nuclear
facilities.We expect thatviolent conflictwill have an especially strong effect on the
likelihood of an attack when the proliferator in question is a highly authoritarian
regime because potential strikingstatesmight calculate that the targetwill act unpre
dictably under such circumstances. As the proliferator becomes more democratic,
we expect thatviolent conflictwill exert a smaller substantive effect on theprobabil
itythatnuclear programs will be targeted.To test thispossibility, we replicatemodel

5 with an interaction termbetween violent conflict and target's polity.28


Table 5 reports the results of this analysis. Model 7 is a baseline model thatonly
includes the interaction term, the constituent components, and controls for temporal
dependence. Model 8 is a fullmodel that includes the same control variables from

model 5. The interaction term is negative and highly statistically significant inboth
models, suggesting that the effect of conflict on attacks against nuclear programs
declines as the target state becomes more democratic. However, it is difficult to
properly interpretthese results solely on the basis of the informationpresented in

table 5.We follow the advice of Brambor, Clark, and Golder (2006) and plot the
marginal effect of violent conflict along with the 95 percent confidence interval
as target's polity increases.

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Resolution54(6)
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850

Table

5.

Violent

1941-2000

Conflict,

Target's

Regime

Type,

and Attacks

against Nuclear

Programs,

(8)

(7)
Explanatory variables
Violent conflict
Target's polity
Violent Conflict)

x Target's

4.587*** (1.053)
0.509*** (0.028)

-0.650***

Polity

(0.125)

(0.094)
(0.664)

18.585**(7.445)
-0.032 (0.054)
4.369*** (1.643)
0.187 (0.537)

Target's power
Power ratio

Article 56
war

-0.095

Program years
assistance
Nuclear
Attacker's

-0.538***
-1.511**

Foreign policy similarity


Control variables

Post-cold

3.767*** (0.957)
0.492*** (0.075)

(0.084)

-0.094**

Contiguity
No attack years

-0.644

Spline I
Spline2
Spline3

(0.396)

-0.010(0.017)

0.005 (0.014)

-0.001

Constant

(0.004)

-5.773***

(1.039)

5,444

Observations
Note: Robust standard errors
***
significant at I percent.

in parentheses;

(0.043)

6.938** (3.372)
-0.245 (1.196)

power

significant at

-0.484

(0.429)

-0.008

(0.016)

0.005 (0.012)

-0.002

(0.003)

-7.698***

(1.881)

5,360

10 percent; ** significant at 5 percent;

Figure 1 is consistent with our theoretical expectations outlined above. The mar
ginal effect of violent conflict is largest when target's polity is at theminimum
value. The marginal effect begins to level off when the rescaled target's polity
approaches a value of 4, which is about the cut-point for an authoritarian regime.
When target's polity isgreater than 12 (denoted by thevertical dotted line infigure 1)
the confidence interval includes 0, indicating that the relationship between prior
violent conflict and attacks against nuclear programs is no longer statistically signif

icant. Thus, democracies are no more likely to be targeted inwar than in peace.
However, violent conflict amplifies the probability that an authoritarian proliferator
will be attacked. For some anocracies (with rescaled Polity scores between 6 and 13),
war has a statistically significant effect on the chance of being attacked but
substantively this relationship ismodest.

ConsideredAttacks and thePotentialforMissing Cases


We

institutedresearch and coding rules (see appendices A-C) tomaximize the like
lihood thatwe identifiedall instances of considered attacks against nuclear programs
in the available historical record. Still, it is reasonable towonder whether we have
identified the true universe of cases. We were able to discover considered uses of

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Fuhrmann

851

and Kreps

.1
.09
.08
.07
.06
.05
.04 -\
.03
.02 H
.01
0
-.01

i-r~

10

12

14

16

20

Target's polity score

I. Marginal effect of war on attacks against nuclear facilities as target's polity score
Figure
line
1941-2000.
Note: Dotted
lines denote 95 percent confidence
increases,
interval; verticle
denotes
the confidence
interval includes zero.
point at which

force involving theUnited States and other democracies inpart because many of the
relevant national security documents have been declassified. We did not have this
same level of access for authoritarian countries (e.g., the Soviet Union), so it is pos
sible thatwe failed to discover all cases involving these states.29To explore whether
this systematically biased the findings we presented above, we reestimated models
1-3 in a sample thatonly included democratic attackers.30 This reduced our sample
size by about 50 percent but we are most confident in the completeness of our case

list for democratic attackers.


The results are presented in table 6. Many of the results are consistent with those
reported in table 4. Most importantly,the results across models 9-11 offer consistent
support in favor of hypotheses 1 and 2. However, foreign policy similarity is statisti
cally insignificant inmodels 9 and 10,which fails to support hypothesis 3. Given the
consistency of the other findings, it is unlikely that this is indicative of a systematic
bias in themeasurement of our dependent variable. It ismore likely that the evidence

in favor of hypothesis 3 is less robust, compared to the evidence supporting hypothe


ses 1 and 2.31 In termsof the controls, thefindings are consistentwith those presented
in table 4 with two notable exceptions. Target's power is statistically insignificant
while power ratio is statistically related to considered attacks in the negative direc
tion.32 In addition,post-cold war is statistically insignificant inmodels 10 and 11; the
coefficient on thisvariable was negative and significant inmodels 2 and 3.

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Resolution54(6)
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852

Table

6.

Democratic

Attackers

and

Strikes

Considered

against

1941-2000

Target's

2.173*** (0.798)

-0.198**

polity

Foreign policy similarity


Control variables

-0.180

(0.098)

1.556*(0.843)

-0.112*
-0.442

(0.526)

13.468(9.969)

Article 56

2.604** (1.149)

war

(0.039)

-0.418

Program years
assistance
Nuclear
power

Contiguity
No consider

Spline I
Spline2
Spline3

2.663*** (0.713)

(0.711)

-0.065*

Attacker's

(M)

(0.067)

Target's power
Power ratio
Post-cold

Programs,

(10)

(9)
Explanatory variables
Violent conflict

Nuclear

-I.I

years

16*** (0.406)

-0.030**

(0.013)

0.018** (0.008)
-0.003 (0.002)

Constant

-4.054***

(1.068)

0.006 (0.062)
-0.019 (0.045)
8.696* (4.582)
0.061 (0.957)

Note: Robust standard errors


***
significant at I percent.

in parentheses;

1.858**(0.901)

-0.560

(0.794)

-0.011

(0.056)

-0.054*

(0.030)

-0.945**

(0.385)

-1.106***

-0.024**

(0.011)

-0.027**

0.014* (0.007)

-0.002

(0.002)

-5.313*

2424

Observations

(0.782)

significant at

(2.952)

2424

(0.389)
(0.012)

0.015* (0.008)
-0.002 (0.002)

-3.442***

(0.703)

2468

10 percent; ** significant at 5 percent;

Conclusion
The empirical findings lend strong support for our argument that countries attack or
consider attacking nuclear programs when they are threatened by the target state's
acquisition of the bomb. Consistent with this argument, violent conflict is strongly
related to attacks and considered attacks against nuclear programs. Countries are
more likely to consider strikingauthoritarian regimes because leaders in these states
aremore likely to behave unpredictably. The target's regime type also conditions the

relationship between violent conflict and attacks against nuclear programs. Hostile
militarized disputes have a very large substantive effect on the likelihood of an

attack when the target is highly authoritarian, but the magnitude of this effect
declines as the targetbecomes more democratic. Violent conflict is statistically unre
lated to attacks when the target is a developed democracy. We also find thatforeign

policy similarity decreases the likelihood of attacks and considered attacks, although
the statistical significance of this relationship washes away when we only include
democratic attackers in our estimation sample.
Our findings are generally unsupportive of the competing explanations. Contrary
to theview that states aremore likely to attackweak proliferators because the oppor
tunities for retaliation are reduced, we find that,on average, risks of retaliation are

not salient in explaining either attacks or considered attacks. Rather, states are

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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Fuhrmann

853

and Kreps

actuallymore likely to attack and consider attacking powerful proliferators.We also


find littleempirical support for international condemnation as a deterrent for attacks;
states are actually more likely tobe targeted following the creation of a norm against
the bombing of nuclear facilities, although this is not necessarily true in the post
cold war era. Our analysis showed no clear relationship between a target's progress
toward developing nuclear weapons and the probability of an attack or considered
attack. Finally, operational feasibility plays less of a role in attacks against nuclear
programs than the conventional wisdom suggests, although powerful states aremore

likely to strike and consider striking.


These results have implications for theoretical debates on nuclear proliferation.
Although proliferation pessimists (e.g., Sagan 1994; Feaver 1997) have cited the
potential for attacks against nuclear programs as one reason why the horizontal
spread of nuclear weapons can be destabilizing, few scholars (e.g., Kroenig
2009a) have explored cross-national variation in the opposition toproliferation. This
studydevelops theproliferation literatureby highlighting variation across space and
time in states' willingness to respond tonuclear proliferationwith theuse ofmilitary
force.Our findingspoint to the conditions under which proliferationmay undermine
international security. Proliferation ismore likely to triggerdestabilizing preventive
strikes ifcountries fear that theproliferatorwill engage in offensive or unpredictable
behavior (i.e., using nuclear weapons) or if bomb acquisition would significantly

weaken their futurebargaining leverage.


This analysis also has noteworthy policy implications.We show that stateswill be
willing to attack a proliferatorwhen they are sufficientlyopposed to its acquisition
when the potential consequences are high. The good
of nuclear weapons?even

news is that states are rarely sufficiently threatened to seriously consider attacking
a nuclear program. It often takes war or other forms of severe militarized conflict
to triggerattacks and these events occur relatively infrequently.Nonetheless, peace
time attacks are possible if states believe thata proliferating countrywill not behave
as a responsible nuclear power (e.g., nuclear weapons might be used). This is an
important insightfor states and internationalorganizations thathave interests in con

flictmanagement. If these entities understand the conditions under which future


attacks are more likely, they can redouble theirmediation efforts in such cases and
possibly bring a peaceful end to the proliferator's nuclear program.

Notes
were seriouslyconsidered involveeighteendifferent
1. The fiftycases where strikes
dyads;
some

dyads

experienced

considered

attacks

inmultiple

years.

2. There has been somepolicy analysis on positive and negative cases (e.g.,Ramberg 2006).
3. Relevant

infrastructure

fuel fabrication,

uranium

includes

nuclear

enrichment,

power

and

or plutonium

research

reactors

reprocessing.

This

and

facilities

definition

for

is sim

ilar toReiter's (2006, 29) definitionbut differsin two respects: (1) we do not include

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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

854

attacks

actors

nonstate

against

(2) we

and

Resolution54(6)
JournalofConflict

uses

exclude

of force

nuclear

that delayed

proliferationif thiswas not the explicit intentionof the attackingcountry.


4. For instance,countriesthatjoined the 1990-1991 GulfWar coalitionwould onlybe clas
if theydroppedbombs or otherwise
sifiedas having attacked Iraqi nuclear infrastructure
to the destruction

contributed

directly
5.

to the three conditions

In addition
if an actual

installations.

of nuclear

here, we

discussed

that attacks were

assume

considered

in the same year.

strike occurred

6. Rhetoric often accompanies genuine interestbut is not a sufficientcondition forbeing


included

in our data

7. Appendix

A provides

set.
of each

short descriptions

nuclear

ered attacking

or consid

states attacked

instance where

lists the sources we

and

facilities

relied on

in coding

these cases.

Appendix B listscases thatarementioned in thehistorical literatureon attacks against


nuclear

lists sources we

or considered

attacked

from our analysis

but are excluded

programs

criteria. Appendix

consulted

nuclear

attacking

they do not meet

because

that did not reveal

our coding
that states

any evidence

facilities.

8. Some scholarsargue thatusing dyadic data is inappropriateformultilateral events (Poast


states.
We agree that
2009) since dyadic relationshipsare often influencedby third-party
this is often

a problem

in studies

and we

relations

of international

encourage

further

researchon thistopic.Yet, in thisparticulararticle, theuse of dyadic data is less proble


matic thanitmight be forotherstudieswheremultilateraleventsare involved.Our coding
criteriaare explicitlydesigned to cope with thisproblem.Cases are only coded as "con

sideredattacks" ifa stateseriouslycontemplatesmilitaryaction, independentofwhether


a thirdpartymight also strike(see Appendix A for further
details).All of attacks in our
sample would

likely have

in the absence

occurred

of third-party action.

The most

likely

exception to this is theBritish raidof Iraqinuclear facilities in 1998,whichmay nothave


occurred

in the absence

this case

coded

9. We

include

of United

as missing

and

States

relevant

only politically

involvement.

We

are substantively

the results

attackers

because

we

replicate models

3 and 4 with

similar.
are not interested

in states

that

have no credible capability to effectivelydestroynuclear facilities.


We definepolitically
relevantattackersas allmajor powers and all stateswithin 600 miles.

10.We primarilyuse the "explore" data of Singh andWay since statescould be attacked
even ifthereis theslightestsuspicion thattheyare using nuclearweapons. For theperiod
prior to 1945,we relyon thedata of Jo and Gartzke.
on the MID

11. Based

data,

this includes

"use

of force"

and

"war."

12. These data were generatedusing EUGene (Bennettand Stam 2000).


13. The Polity score ranges from-10 to 10,with higher scores indicatinggreater levels of
democracy.

14.We use thismeasure because it can be problematic to infer states' foreign policy
interestsbased solely on their alliance commitments (Signorino and Ritter 1999).
Note,

however,

that states

have

never

considered

a military ally.
15. We

use

16. We

thank an anonymous

the unweighted

regional
reviewer

attacking

the nuclear

S-scores.
for this insight.

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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

program

of

and Kreps 855


Fuhrmann

17. Nuclear

in place

authorize

agreements

cooperation

or knowledge

from one

state to another

in virtually

all cases

technology,

materials,

before

the transfer of nuclear

for "peaceful

such

purposes."

materials,

technology,
They

items can be exchanged.

are required

See Fuhrmann

to be

(2009a,

2009b).
18. Nuclear

both civilian

and military

are dual use

and know-how

applications.

For more

in nature, meaning

on the dual use dilemma

they have

in international

politics, see Fuhrmann (2008, 2009a, 2009b).


19. Contiguitydata are obtained by consultingStinnettet al. (2002).
20.

duces
21.

we

For the sake of robustness,


The number

also use other estimators.

that are substantively

results

of attacks

probit or ordered

Using

logit pro

similar.

and considered

attacks

is fewer than the total number we

listed here

because Norway is not includedas a sovereignstateaccording to theCOW data


identify
when

it targeted the German

nuclear

a politically

case

the Israel-Pakistan

program. Additionally,

it is not considered

here because

included

relevant

dyad. Note,

is not

however,

that

we includedthiscase in a subsequentanalysiswith all states included in the estimation


For ease of interpretation,

sample.
variables

as

coded

1 for values

continuous

above

variables

the mean

are broken

and 0 for values

down
below

into dichotomous
the mean.

22. As a robustnesscheck,we replicatedmodels 1-6 ina sample thatincludedall dyads. The


substantive

of the results

interpretation
considered

involving

els of statistical

attacks, foreign

significance.

As we

is very

policy

similar.

similarity

discuss

below,

In some model

does not achieve


support

specifications

conventional

for hypothesis

lev

3 is the least

robust.

23. Some dyads experienced a considered attack inmore thanone year (see table 1). To
explore how sensitive the findingsare to the inclusionofmultiple consideration-years
within a dyad,we replicatemodels 1-3with a recoded dependentvariable;we code the
1 and

first consideration

subsequent

considerations

The

missing.

results

are similar

to

those reportedin table 4 and virtuallyall of thefindingsare supportiveof hypotheses


1-3. One

noteworthy

els of statistical
our findings
dyad. Note,
torical

exception

significance

are mildly
however,

record where

is that target's polity

inmodel

sensitive

2, as the p value

to the inclusion

does

not achieve

increases

of multiple

lev

conventional

to .19. This

considerations

that our original coding criteria are more representative


on independent
considered
attacks were
occasionally

suggests

that

in the same
of the his
occasions

within a singledyad over time.


and contiguity
24. For instance,foreignpolicy similarity
may influenceattacksagainstnuclear
programsbut theyare also causally relatedtoviolentconflict(e.g.,Bremer 1992). Including
thesevariables in themodel could pose problems for the statisticalanalysis.
25. The numbersdisplayed in table4 are calculated by theprobabilityof a dyad experiencing
considered attacksor attackswhen a variable rises to its75th percentile,divided by the
probabilityof considered attacksor attackswhen thevariable is set at its samplemean,
ceteris

paribus.

Dummy

variables

are increased

from 0 to 1.

26. To capturethedyadic effectsof regime type,we coded a dummyvariable 1 iftheattack


ing state was

a democracy

and the proliferator

a nondemocracy

and 0 otherwise.

tutingthisvariable for target'spolity produces similarresults.

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Substi

Resolution54(6)
856 JournalofConflict

For ease

28.

we

rescale

target's

some

cases

involving

of presentation,

that we

29. Note

identified

lack of declassified
sidered

nuclear

are defined

polity

sample

are democracies.

0 and 20.

between

authoritarian

not make

does

documents

strikes against

30. Democracies

in our estimation

of the proliferators

35 percent

27. Roughly

attackers,

that the

indicating

on con

to find information

it impossible

programs.

as states with

a Polity

score of at least 7.

31. To further
explorewhether this is the case,we replicatedmodels 1-3while substituting
alternate measures

are generally

other results
we

32. When

of S-score

alternate measures

The

score).

drop power

of statistical

of Signorino

and Ritter

with

consistent

ratio from

regional

insignificant, while

the

in table 4.

those reported

the model,

the weighted

e.g.,

(1999;

are often statistically

of the S-score

target's power

achieves

conventional

levels

significance.

Note

Authors'

The authors thankAlexander Downes, Matthew Kroenig, JosephNye, Christopher


Way, and anonymous reviewers for helpful feedback and theBelfer Center for Sci
ence and InternationalAffairs atHarvard University for support.Data for replication
of this study and threeonline appendices are available at http://jcr.sagepub.com and
from the author's Web site at http://people.cas.sc.edu/fuhrmann.
Declaration

of Conflicting

Interests

The authors declared no potential conflicts of interestswith respect to the authorship


and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The authors received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this
article.

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