This article elaborates the notion of ‘nuclear idiosyncrasy’ as a specific understanding of what nuclear weapons and energy are, what they stand for and what they can do. It then assesses the persistence of nuclear idiosyncrasy over time and its effects on French nuclear policies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran. Based on interviews in France, Geneva and the UAE, this article contributes to three debates within foreign policy analysis and nuclear history. Is a regional approach necessary to understand the framing of foreign policies in the twenty-first century?
By examining via a case study the political authority of US proliferation experts since the 1960s, this article contributes to nuclear weapons proliferation studies and to the growing literature on the role of expertise in democracies. First, it argues that policy choices are determined by an understanding of history and that approaching nuclear history as a history of nuclear weapons proliferation is a presumption shared by both US experts and policy makers.
Do nuclear weapons offer coercive advantages in international crisis bargaining? Almost seventy years into the nuclear age, we still lack a complete answer to this question. While scholars have devoted significant attention to questions about nuclear deterrence, we know comparatively little about whether nuclear weapons can help compel states to change their behavior. This study argues that, despite their extraordinary power, nuclear weapons are uniquely poor instruments of compellence.