Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Photo of Alex Chang Lee

Alex Chang Lee is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Technology and International Security at the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC) based in Washington, D.C. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Irvine; an M.A. in International Security from Korea University; and a B.A. in International Studies from Southern Methodist University. Before joining the Postdoctoral Fellowship in Technology and International Security, Alex was a 2019-2020 Stanton Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT; a 2016-2017 Japanese Doctoral Fellow at The University of Tokyo; a 2015-2016 Fulbright Scholar at the Korea University; and a 2016 James Kelly Non-Resident Fellow at Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies. His specializations include nuclear non-proliferation, East Asia, comparative foreign policy, and international security studies. His current research includes analyzing the political motivation to acquire nuclear weapons in Japan and South Korea; and how each state’s nuclear policy decision-making will affect U.S. foreign policy and security strategy.

His dissertation, Nuclear Debates and Political Competition in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan (China): Denuclearization or Nuclear Latency in the Aftermath of Fukushima, examines why these three countries’ post-Fukushima nuclear policies were so different and how these deviating outcomes influence these states’ nuclear energy/weapons, U.S. foreign policy in East Asia, and the international order. The research identifies four variants of domestic coalitions relevant to nuclear politics—pro-nuclear energy, pro-nuclear weapons, anti-nuclear energy, and anti-nuclear weapons—and makes a strong case for how pro-nuclear weapons coalitions have emerged to play a significant role in shaping nuclear weapons policy.

Plans for Fellowship: Alex plans to work on redrafting the dissertation into a book manuscript; and complete a working paper that re-evaluates public and elite motivation to acquire nuclear weapons in South Korea and Japan. His research aims to determine which state is more likely to go nuclear in the coming years in Northeast Asia and how it will impact American grand strategy.