Critical Perspectives on Nuclear Weapons

20 May

On June 5, I’m delighted to be attending the BISA Global Nuclear Order Working Group workshop Critical Perspectives on Nuclear Weapons (try saying that after a few beers). This is a great chance to engage in discussions about nuclear issues with some fantastic scholars from across the UK and beyond, looking at issues such as deterrence and disarmament, nuclear identity, and nuclear legitimacy.

My own contribution is a short paper on one of the key topics from my doctoral thesis, the issue of Western interaction with the so-called ‘Islamic bomb.’ This is something that I have become endlessly fascinated with since starting the PhD and may have mentioned it before. Here’s a precis anyway:

The notion of an “Islamic Bomb”—a nuclear weapon designed and built by Pakistan but gifted to other nations within the Islamic ummah—has long had political and cultural currency in the West. This paper will address the roots of the ‘Islamic Bomb’ paradigm, examining what the concept meant to American and British officials dealing with the Pakistani nuclear weapons programme during its early days of development. It will demonstrate that—despite a media-driven ‘scare’ about the spread of nuclear weapons to Islamic states—this concept did little to influence actual policy towards Pakistan and its nascent nuclear capability. Situated at the crossroads of scholarly work on images of Islam in the Western world and literature on nuclear non-proliferation, this paper challenges long-held assumptions about Pakistan’s nuclear aspirations and the Western responses to it.

Even though the event is very, very close to my viva voce examination date, it’s still an exciting prospect to have the chance to engage with fellow scholars of the calibre of Dr Catherine EschleDr Nick Ritchie and Dr Benoit Pelopidas. In fact, the more I think about it, the more it seems like such an event is exactly the right kind of preparation for a doctoral examination. I’m certain that my findings and analysis will be rigorously challenged and discussed, which is all to the good.

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