International war is often studied as a bargaining problem, but nuclear weapons change the nature of this strategic interaction. We provide a formal model to show how nuclear weapons change the fundamental bargaining problem faced by countries in crisis. While mutual ownership of nuclear weapons can reduce the likelihood of conventional warfare, an asymmetric ownership typically guarantees the possessor their full demand, demonstrating the value in acquiring nuclear technology. Further, we explore implications of the model on institutional design for nonproliferation by extending the baseline model to account for potential denuclearization at the outset. The model sheds light on which nonproliferation regimes are likely to succeed and which are likely to exacerbate the problem and incentivize nuclear threats.
Recommended citation: Ruggiero, Joseph and Carter, Perry. (2023). "Leveraging Armageddon: Nuclear Weapons in Crisis Bargaining." Working Paper.