Sovereignty and trading states: denuclearization in Belarus, Kazakhstan, South Africa, and Ukraine

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The paper explores the cases of denuclearized countries, namely Belarus, Kazakhstan, South Africa, and Ukraine and primarily intends to answer the questions of how (process), why (reasons for denuclearization), and for what (benefits and gains) did these four countries abandon their strategically advantageous nuclear arsenals. For conceptual analysis, ‘a trading state’ is employed, for they commonly faced the imminent need of guaranteeing state sovereignty and the influence of changing security dynamics. The four cases exhibit both generalizable commonality and distinctive experience in the process of denuclearization. They demonstrate that two mutually-reinforcing forces, ‘global-scale structural change in world politics’ and ‘pressure for regime creation or change’, interactively led to the final decision to enact complete denuclearization, albeit not effortlessly. Furthermore, unveiling the differences in the process of denuclearization – in terms of resistance, negotiation tools and leverage, stage of nuclear development, domestic-grown technology, internal justification for legitimacy – helps to clarify the gains and benefits received in return for denuclearization. Shedding light on these four countries, under pressure from nuclear weapons states, complements conventional realism-leaning interpretations of nuclear politics and offers policy insights to understand countries with nuclear ambition in contemporary world politics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-503
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Post-Soviet denuclearized states
  • South Africa
  • nuclear disarmament
  • sovereignty
  • trading state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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