Magazine Article - The Washington Monthly

Americans Aren’t as Averse to Using Nuclear Weapons as You Might Think

  • Alex Caton
| Aug. 31, 2017

With U.S.-North Korea tensions heightened after weeks of fiery and furious rhetoric from President Trump and Kim Jong-un—pushing the world closer to nuclear conflict than it has been in decades—it’s worth taking a breath to consider what forces have kept the world’s nuclear-armed states from irradiating and annihilating each other in a shower of bombs.

Some explanations of nuclear non-use say that nuclear weapons have become, counterintuitively, a stabilizing force on the international system. Once the U.S. and Soviet Union both developed second-strike capability—the ability to respond to a nuclear strike with one of your own—deploying nuclear weapons in the first place became rather unattractive.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Caton, Alex. “Americans Aren’t as Averse to Using Nuclear Weapons as You Might Think.” The Washington Monthly, August 31, 2017.

The Author


Scott Sagan