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National Governance of Nuclear Weapons: Opportunities and Constraints

31 December, 2006



I. Introduction

II. Governance in the States Possessing Nuclear Weapons
- The United States
- Russia
- China
- France
- The United Kingdom
- Israel
- India
- Pakistan

III. Layers of Accountability for Controlling Nuclear Weapons
- Command and Control
- Executive Control Over Nuclear Weapons
- Parliamentary Control
- "Public" Control

IV. Conclusions


This policy paper adopts a broad, governance focussed perspective, examining the spectrum of political oversight and control mechanisms that may apply within and, to some extent, between nuclear weapon states.

Drawing on the notions of civilian control and democratic accountability, which have been established in the context of security sector reform, this paper shall explore the roles and requirements of: the state executive, the military, specialised civilian institutions, parliamentary institutions and civil society.

The term "governance", in this paper, encompasses not only the functions of heads of state and prime ministers who possess the power to make decisions regarding nuclear weapons, but also the functions of military commanders and civilian defence chiefs who have the practical means to execute these decisions.