Conditional Deterrence: An Agent-Based Framework of Escalation Dynamics in an Era of WMD Proliferation

  • Zining YangEmail author
  • Jacek Kugler
  • Mark Abdollahian
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 780)


We offer a revised conditional deterrence agent based model applied to global and regional nuclear proliferation issues. Further extending the dyadic logic already established in the deterrence literature helps anticipate more recent 21st century challenges generated by the proliferation of nuclear capabilities and their acquisitions by dissatisfied non-state actors. Key elements include relative capabilities, risk propensity associated with the status quo, and physical exposure to preemptive-attack or retaliation. This work continues to extend our previous complex adaptive system framework to generalize insights to deterrence environments with multiple competing actors. Our preliminary analysis suggests that deterrence is stable when the capabilities of a dissatisfied challenger are inferior to that of a dominant and satisfied defender. Conversely, deterrence is tenuous when a dissatisfied challenger approaches parity in capability with a more dominant and satisfied defender, or when a violent non-state actor obtains nuclear capability or other WMDs.


Agent-based model Game theory Security Deterrence Proliferation 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Claremont Graduate UniversityClaremontUSA

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