News Release: Foreign Affairs Contributor Wins Prize for Theory Linking Nuclear Weapon Failures to Authoritarian Practices

Jacques E.C. Hymans, associate professor of international relations at the University of Southern California and a contributor to Foreign Affairs magazine, won the 2014 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order from the University of Louisville.

Hymans received the award for linking the global slowdown in nuclear proliferation to the “dysfunctional management tendencies of the states that have sought the bomb in recent decades”—namely Iran and North Korea—an idea Hymans spelled out in his March 2012 Foreign Affairs essay, “Botching the Bomb.” The essay was adapted from his book Achieving Nuclear Ambitions: Scientists, Politicians, and Proliferation.

Hymans explains the substantial slowdown in nuclear proliferation since 1970 by observing that the would-be nuclear states have been developing countries with authoritarian regimes and weak institutions. The coercive tactics of such governments, he argues, undermine the scientists, engineers, and technicians that are necessary to build a nuclear weapon.

To prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, Hymans proposes “getting out of the way and allowing the Iranian nuclear program’s worst enemies—Iran’s political leaders—to hinder the country’s nuclear progress all by themselves.”

As one of four Grawemeyer Award recipients this year, Hymans will receive a prize of $100,000.

“We’re delighted that Jacques’s pioneering work is being appropriately recognized and celebrated,” said Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose. “It presents a fresh, smart, intellectually rigorous look at critically important practical issues—just the sort of thing security studies should be all about.” 

Hymans’s article was part of a continuing stream of recent Iran- and nuclear-related coverage in Foreign Affairs, highlights of which have been collected in the ebook Iran and the Bomb. In addition to Hymans’s essay, the collection features pieces by Kenneth Waltz, Scott Sagan, Richard Haass, Gary Sick, Ray Takeyh, Suzanne Maloney, and many others.

The magazine has also published an ebook compilation of its best essays from 2013. The compilation includes works by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, and CFR Senior Fellows Benn Steil and Laurie Garrett.

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