Journal Article - International Security

When Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Adversary Perceptions of Nuclear No-First-Use Pledges

| Spring 2024

Summary

Would the world be safer if the United States pledged to never use nuclear weapons first? Supporters say a credible pledge would strengthen crisis stability, decrease hostility, and bolster nonproliferation and arms control. But reactions to no-first-use pledges by the Soviet Union, China, and India suggest that adversaries perceive pledges as credible only when the political relationship between a state and its adversary is already relatively benign, or when the state’s military has no ability to engage in nuclear first use against the adversary. 

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Caitlin Talmadge, Lisa Michelini, and Vipin Narang, "When Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Adversary Perceptions of Nuclear No-First-Use Pledges," International Security, Vol. 48, No. 4 (Spring 2024), pp. 7–46.

The Authors

Caitlin Talmadge photo