FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 29, 2006

President Bush’s famous “Axis of Evil” speech heralded a new approach to nonproliferation.  Nuclear weapons and materials were no longer a problem per se; what mattered was the character of the actors that sought to possess these weapons.  The new strategy sought to eliminate bad actors – the axis of evil and terrorists – and replace them with democracies, inspired by the theory that democracies don’t go to war with each other.  The recent U.S.-India nuclear deal extends the “democratic bomb” strategy by changing global nonproliferation rules to accommodate India and its nuclear arsenal because India is a friendly democracy.

In a new Carnegie Policy Brief, Democratic Bomb: Failed Strategy,” George Perkovich acknowledges the virtues of democracy but argues that a strategy predicated on eliminating “bad” regimes and rewarding “good” ones compounds the risk of nuclear dangers in at least eleven ways, which he succinctly presents.   Nuclear weapons and fissile materials are dangerous wherever they exist – because terrorists may seek them anywhere, and today’s good regime can be tomorrow’s bad.  Thus, security requires strengthening universal rules, not bending them.  And the U.S. does not have the luxury of refusing to deal directly with foreign leaders, however objectionable they might be, if those are the people whose nuclear behavior must be changed. 

To read this Policy Brief, go to:

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George Perkovich is vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. An expert on Iran, South Asia, and nuclear weapons, he is the co-author of Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security (Carnegie Endowment, 2005), and the award-winning history, India’s Nuclear Bomb (University of California, 2001).

Press Contact: Trent Perrotto, 202/939-2372,

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States.