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Title: Information and Blind Spots: Satellite-imaging technology and contending arguments for nuclear disarmament, arms control, and modernization in U.S. policymaking
Authors: Patton, Tamara Lilinoe
Advisors: Glaser, Alexander
Contributors: Public and International Affairs Department
Keywords: Domestic politics
International security
Nuclear weapons
Subjects: International relations
Public policy
Science history
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s, arms control gained traction as the preferred option for dealing with Soviet nuclear advances. The development of the first imaging satellites is often credited with enabling nuclear arms control under the conventional wisdom that more information enabled verification and thus facilitated restraint and cooperation. This research shows that while satellites indeed provided information to verify arms control and contributed to its rise, the information and blind spots stemming from the high-resolution satellites fielded by the United States related to Soviet nuclear weapon developments were often leveraged to pursue more diverse and expansive U.S. modernization efforts, including to retain nascent weapon programs when their banning or cancellation was a possibility under debate. New information and remaining blind spots from satellites were thus co-constitutive in arms control limits (rather than bans), but also in qualitative arms build ups. The result was that arms control, while initially framed by U.S. political leaders as a step toward disarmament, became increasingly interwoven with modernization, and this combination was often positioned as the policy alternative to a potential ban. The advancement and use of high-resolution satellites thus contributed to the shaping of U.S. nuclear policy by encouraging arms control while creating new opportunities for pursuing nuclear superiority and further diminishing disarmament as a policy choice.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Public and International Affairs

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