Inheriting the Bomb: A History of Ukraine’s Nuclear Disarmament and Why It Matters | Mariana Budjeryn

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William J. Perry Conference Room

Speaker: 
  • Mariana Budjeryn

Seminar Recording

About the Event: The fall of the Soviet empire in 1991 raised fears of the world’s single largest wave of nuclear proliferation in history, when the Soviet Union’s enormous nuclear arsenal found itself on the territory of not one but four newly sovereign states: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine. Of those only one nuclear successor would emerge: Russia. The other three ultimately decided to join the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons as non-nuclear-weapon states and proceeded to disarm. Of the three, Ukraine followed the most contested path to nuclear renunciation, becoming a serious proliferation concern but in the end negotiating a deal that included security assurances from nuclear states, Russia among them. Inheriting the Bomb is a story of why Ukraine decided to give up its nuclear weapons and how it shaped the post-Soviet security settlement. As Russia’s war against Ukraine rages on, the causes and consequence of Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament gain new relevance and urgency.  

About the Speaker: Mariana Budjeryn is a Senior Research Associate with the Project on Managing the Atom (MTA) at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center. She is the author of a new book Inheriting the Bomb: The Collapse of the USSR and the Nuclear Disarmament of Ukraine (2022, Johns Hopkins University Press). Formerly, she held appointments of a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at MTA, and a visiting professor at Tufts University and Peace Research Institute Frankfurt. Mariana’s research and analytical contributions appeared in the Journal of Cold War Studies, Nonproliferation Review, Foreign Affairs, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, War on the Rocks, and in the publications of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where she is a Global Fellow. 

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