Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Stanford University
Ongoing Research Projects
• 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.
•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.
• Bernhardt, Jordan and Lauren Sukin. “Joint Military Exercises and Crisis Dynamics on the Korean Peninsula.”
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
Selected Journalism and Other Publications