Tegan Harrison

Cardiff, United Kingdom

Nuclear non-proliferation, History, Other






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Contributor Since 30 March 2023

My name is Tegan Harrison. I am a PhD researcher at Cardiff University, based in the School of Law and Politics. My research looks at the securitization of outer space through the case of the UN agenda item, ‘the prevention of an arms race in outer space’ (PAROS). In this context, the project focuses on the framing of security since the 1980s and across various PAROS initiatives. My research interests also include the intersection of space and nuclear security issues, specifically, missile defence in the context of arms race dynamics and the use of satellites for arms control verification and monitoring. In addition, I work as a PGR tutor and take regular undergraduate seminars. This has been a brilliant opportunity and I would highly recommend it to any prospective PGRs!

Mentor Background

What is your area of expertise?

  • Nuclear non-proliferation
  • History
  • Other
  • Are you interested in mentoring high school or college students, or both?

  • High School Students
  • College Students
  • How did you become interested in this area?

    During the course of my research on space security in the UN forum it became increasingly clear space and nuclear politics were inherently linked. I began to explore the intersection of nuclear and space security issues which are often discussed separately by distinct expert communities.I became interested in the history and development of space and nuclear arms control with a particular focus on the role that satellites played in the negotiation of arms control agreements through national technical means of verification. I also had the opportunity to tutor a third-year module on Nuclear Politics which was another avenue into the subject.  

    What was your career path to get here?

    I completed a BSc Sociology and MA Security at Loughborough University. It was really during the MA programme and with the support of my supervisor that I decided to take my studies and interests further into a PhD project.  

    Why should the public care?

    I think it’s important to put missile defence as well as nuclear and counter space capabilities in the broader context of current strategic armaments that are partly driven by concerns about the survivability of second-strike nuclear forces. One of the drivers of nuclear modernization has been the concern that nuclear deterrence could be weakened by missile defence systems and these dynamics extend to space security too. There is an increasing reliance on space-based assets for missile defence and other military systems. For example, counterspace capabilities could be used to undermine missile defences so they might be pursued to preserve nuclear deterrence; and some missile defence systems also have an inherent anti-satellite weapon capability. We see that outer space is not divorced from politics on Earth and as long as there are geopolitical rivalries and low levels of trust then we're going to be seeing more and more challenges to international security. 

    What is a current issue or trend that concerns you?

    In outer space today a couple of indictors can be identified that suggest that there is an arms race dynamic happening. We are seeing rivalries amongst major space powers with a number of players who have or are in the process of developing counterspace capabilities. There are corresponding technologies designed to counter missile defences and to ensure strategic stability. Anti-satellite weapons are all intended to more or less be able to counter any developments or advantages that might be gained through space systems including missile defence. Thirdly, there are indicators of an acceleration in the development of certain arms as alluded to by the growing number of military forces for space capabilities and national policies actively stating the desire to secure space not just for national security but also as a domain in which states can assert certain dominant roles. This is not to say that space is necessary a unique domain in terms of geopolitics and arms race dynamics. Rather, it just so happens that space is where some of the new developments are taking place. Some of the great challenges that are presented by counter space capabilities are things like space debris as well as other things like electronic interference or even hacking whether that be global positioning systems or communications satellites. Uncertainty as to what or indeed, why states conduct certain activities runs the risk that such acts could be misinterpreted as a precursor to a first strike, so communication and confidence-building measures are important to promote stability in space.  

    What themes or topics would you be interested in lecturing or discussing with a class?


    Educational Resources

    The Politics of Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons: Debate
    Role playing, Simulation
    See Details See Details

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