Security Challenges
Volume 9, No.4 (2013)

Nuclear Weapons: A Progress Report

Nuclear weapons may or may not have kept the peace among various groups of rival states; they could be catastrophic for the world if ever used by both sides in a war between nuclear-armed rivals; and the prospects for their use have grown since the end of the Cold War. For nuclear peace to hold, deterrence and fail-safe mechanisms must work every single time. For nuclear Armageddon to break out, deterrence or fail safe mechanisms need to break down only once. This is not a comforting equation. It also explains why, unlike most situations where risk can be mitigated after disaster strikes, with nuclear weapons all risks must be mitigated before any disaster.

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