School of Social and Political Science

Luba Zatsepina-McCreadie

Job Title

PhD title: The Role of Nuclear Identities in Shaping Nuclear Decisions (US and USSR)


City (Address)


Country (Address)


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Dr. Claire Duncanson

Dr. Oliver Turner

PhD Research

My research emphasizes the role and significance of ideas, beliefs and identities in nuclear decision-making. This ideas-based approach aims to challenge the traditional rationalist models for explaining nuclear proliferation, suggesting that nuclear weapons may additionally have other less obvious functions besides security and deterrence.  Ideational approaches to nuclear proliferation focus on norms, ideas, and beliefs that shape actors’ preferences and interests, although different scholars place different factors at the centre of their analysis. These may include: norms, psychology of state leaders, and beliefs in symbolic value of nuclear weapons. My research looks at the role nuclear identities play in shaping nuclear decisions.

Nuclear identities are made up of three components: firstly, political elites’ beliefs in the historical connection between power, recognition and nuclear weapons; secondly, their choice and action with regards to nuclear proliferation; thirdly, the perceptions of other states.  Political elites play a key role in constructing and maintaining nuclear identities, as they are principal decision makers when it comes to foreign and security policies. Nuclear identities reflect political elites’ vision and understanding of how having nuclear capabilities relates to their state being a recognized power. Nuclear identity can be understood in a poststructuralist sense as discursive and relational. It is discursive, because it is constructed and articulated through words and narratives that elites use to justify and legitimize decisions and practices regarding nuclear proliferation. Nuclear identity is relational, because it is defined in relation to what it is not – through relations of difference.

My research focuses on nuclear decisons made in the US and the USSR, focusing specifically on the initial decision to launch a nuclear weapons program and rapid vertical proliferation during the Cold War. Using discourse analysis, I look at historic documents and secondary sources in order to develop and articulate an understanding of how the US and USSR produced their own senses of nuclear identity in relation to each other, and how this impacted upon nuclear proliferation.


MSc Sociology and Global Change, University of Edinburgh 2012-2013.
BSc (Hons) Sport and Recreation Management + Sociology, University of Edinburgh 2008-2012.



Introduction to Politics and International Relations (Senior Tutor)

Global Security

Sport and Society


Study Skills (Convenor)

Introduction to Politics and International Relations (Senior Tutor)

Global Security


Introduction to Politics and International Relations (Senior Tutor)

Global Security

Sport and Society


Introduction to Politics and International Relations

Sociology 1B


'Nuclear Orientalism and the Production of Danger' (Global Security, Spring 2016)


Best Tutor in Politics and IR 2017 (winner)

PIR Tutor Prize 2016 (runner-up)

EUSA Teaching Award Nominee 2015; 2016 (Best student who tutors; Best overall teacher)


Editorial Assistant for the Journal of Defence Studies (2017-present)

Research interests

Research interests

Nuclear Weapons, Identity, Non-proliferation, Post-structuralism, Discourse Analysis, Gender, Cold War, IR and Security studies