A Game-Theoretic Model of Mutual Benefits in Bilateral Nuclear Security Regimes
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States collaborate to achieve common goals. In the interest of advancing nuclear security globally, states have previously formed bilateral partnerships that allow two states to cooperate in germane areas of the nuclear industry such as safeguarding nuclear material, securing nuclear weapons, and advancing peaceful uses of nuclear technologies. Specifically, some states collaborate in establishing state-level strategies on nuclear security measures in order to protect against possible non-state adversaries (e.g., the Cooperative Threat Reduction and Material Protection, Control, and Accounting Programs between the Russian Federation and the United States). In an attempt to quantify utilities, a methodology has been developed within this work that uses game-theoretic models to measure the value of cooperation. In certain bilateral regimes, the opportunity for influence arises due to asymmetry between the partners. The developed methodology has the potential to identify circumstances under which one state might influence another in securing the latter’s nuclear assets against possible non-state actors by virtue of a potential collective benefit in a bilateral cooperative nuclear security regime. The methodology employs three different, but related, game-theoretic models – two using non-cooperative approaches and one using a cooperative approach. Determining the existence and magnitude of utilities between uncorrelated and correlated strategies provides the opportunity to study various cooperative strategies between states. The bargaining solutions of the cooperative game that models agreements providing a net benefit to both parties were then used to evaluate utilities of each such viable cooperative strategy, and the results compared. This process was applied to four case studies exhibiting a temporal progression of cooperation between the Russian Federation (as successor to the Soviet Union) and the United States and a fifth case study assessing possible cooperation between modern-day Pakistan and the United States. A result of applying the methodology to the former bilateral regime illustrated the use of nuclear insecurity as a potentially profitable commodity (a stated concern of nuclear deterrence and nonproliferation scholars). Two notable conclusions include 1) the level of investment for independent action by the states can impact the nature of a collaborative regime and 2) the collective total (investment and consequential) costs of a bilateral regime can be reduced but will require additional investment by at least one state. We conclude that the methodology developed here has the potential to assist future decision makers and analysts in quantifying the value of state-level cooperation for nuclear security.
Gariazzo, Claudio (2017). A Game-Theoretic Model of Mutual Benefits in Bilateral Nuclear Security Regimes. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from