Lauren Sukin

Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Stanford University

Contact Information

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Ongoing Research Projects

Š      Sukin, Lauren. “Credible Nuclear Security Commitments Can Backfire: Explaining Domestic Support for Nuclear Weapons Acquisition in South Korea,” Under Review at Journal of Conflict Resolution.

o  Abstract: How does the alliance between a client state and its nuclear ally influence support for proliferation in the client? Conventional wisdom suggests that when nuclear security guarantees are not credible, support for proliferation will be high, since a domestic nuclear capability offers an alternative source of deterrence. I introduce a new theory, which posits that highly credible security guarantees can backfire by causing some individuals to fear their ally might miscalculate—either by using nuclear weapons in an unnecessary preventative attack or by precipitous escalation of a crisis or conflict. A survey experiment conducted among a representative sample of South Korean citizens supports my theory; highly credible nuclear security guarantees increase support for proliferation by between 5 and 8 percent. I find that the mechanisms of both my theory and the conventional wisdom are simultaneously at play, causing two-sided pressure on the South Korean government to proliferate.

Š      Bernhardt, Jordan and Lauren Sukin. “Joint Military Exercises and Crisis Dynamics on the Korean Peninsula.” 

o  Abstract: A number of proposals related to halting North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs have discussed alterations to the program of joint military exercises that the United States holds with South Korea. North Korea has also repeatedly called for a reduction or secession of the joint exercises. Would limiting or halting United States-South Korea joint military exercises be a useful concession for securing a reduction of tensions on the peninsula or for rolling back North Korea's missile and nuclear programs? In this paper, we establish a relationship between joint military exercises and North Korea's actions. In response to a provocation, North Korea can issue warnings or threats as well as take costly signals such as engaging in cross-border incidents and conducting missile or nuclear tests. Using new data on joint military exercises and North Korean behavior, we find that the intensity of North Korea's responses to joint military exercises is driven by the intensity of the threat those exercises pose. These findings indicate that North Korea does view joint military exercises as a serious threat.

Peer-Reviewed Academic Work

Š      Sukin, Lauren. “Beyond Iran: Containing Nuclear Development in the Middle East.” Nonproliferation Review Vol. 22, No. 3-4, April 7, 2016. 

Conference Presentations

Š      ISA 2019, WB63: Cross-National Security Cooperation and WC31: Public Opinion and Survey Experiments in Nuclear Weapons Scholarship.

Š      Interdisciplinary Social Studies Research Network’s 14th International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, “Do Nuclear Alliances Create Nuclear Allies or Prevent Proliferation?”, Mexico City, July 10-12, 2019

Š      UCSIA (University Centre Saint-Ignatius Antwerp) Workshop on Non-Nuclear Peace, “Do Nuclear Alliances Create Nuclear Allies or Prevent Proliferation?”,  Antwerp, May 23-25, 2018

Š      Georgetown University’s Walsh Exchange Undergraduate International Relations Research Conference, “Arsenal Size, Nuclear Accidents, and Command-And-Control,” Washington D.C., April 15-17, 2016. 

Š      Center for Strategic and International Studies’ 2015 Project on Nuclear Issues Winter Conference, “Whither Goes the Transatlantic Security Partnership,” Washington D.C., December 10, 2015.


Selected Journalism and Other Publications

Š      Sazak, Selim and Sukin, Lauren, “Presidential appointees decide our futures. We should be able to vote for them,” Washington Post, April 4, 2017. 

Š      Sazak, Selim and Sukin, Lauren, “The Nuclear Breakdown: Assessing the Nuclear Claims from 2016’s First Presidential Debate,” Arms Control Wonk, September 27, 2016. 

Š      Sukin, Lauren, “The Old Arguments About US Nukes in Europe Aren’t Working. Here’s A New Approach,” DefenseOne, May 2016. 

Š      Sukin, Lauren, “How America Can Dominate Global Nuclear Energy,” The National Interest, May 2016.

Š      Sukin, Lauren. “The Political Successes of Urban Dispersal.” The Urban Studies Journal Vol. 1, No. 1, Brown University, May 2016.

Š      Sukin, Lauren, “Who Would Sell Enrichment Technology to the Middle East?” American Nuclear Society, Feb. 2016

Š      Sazak, Selim and Sukin, Lauren, “The Other Liquid Gold,” Foreign Affairs, November 2015.

Š      Sukin, Lauren, “In Saudi Arabia, nuclear energy for nuclear energy’s sake,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, July 2015.

Š      Sazak, Selim and Sukin, Lauren, “No Need To Worry About A Nuclear Iran,” The National Interest, July 2015. 

Š      Sukin, Lauren, “Energy Security Drives Nuclear Energy In The Middle East,American Nuclear Society, July 2015.

Š      Sukin, Lauren, “Japan’s New Energy Proposal Isn’t Sustainable,” The Century Foundation, July 2015.

Š      Sukin, Lauren, “Keeping It Clean: A New Challenge for the Clean Water Act,The Century Foundation, July 2015.

Š      Sukin, Lauren, “When Jail Is The Better Option, The Failure of Halfway Houses,” The Century Foundation, June 2015.