[Answered] Discuss the concept of nuclear deterrence and its implications on global peace and security. How has the nuclear taboo evolved over the years?

Introduction: Define Nuclear deterrence and nuclear Taboo.

Body: What are its implications on peace and security and how has nuclear taboo evolved over the years?

Conclusion: Way forward.

Nuclear deterrence is a concept in international relations and military strategy that is based on the notion that having a credible nuclear arsenal can deter enemies from launching a nuclear assault out of fear of severe reprisal. The core tenet of nuclear deterrence is that the prospect of mutual destruction serves as a potent inducement for nations to refrain from nuclear conflict. Nuclear taboo refers to the growing norm and understanding among nations that the use of nuclear weapons is morally and ethically unacceptable.

What are its implications for global peace & security?

  • Prevents Large-scale wars: The fact that nuclear deterrence has helped to avert big power wars on a massive scale since World War II is one of the main arguments in favour of it. Nations contemplating aggressive steps against nuclear-armed enemies have been strongly constrained by the fear of catastrophic reprisal.
  • Balance of Power: A certain degree of stability & peaceful existence in international affairs has resulted from the power balance brought about by nuclear deterrence. Mutual awareness of the dangers of nuclear war during the Cold War contributed to keeping relations between the US and the USSR relatively peaceful.
  • Arms race: The pursuit of nuclear deterrence has led to an arms race in which nations strive to enhance their nuclear capabilities. While some contend that this competition helps to maintain stability, others worry about the possibility of proliferation, where more countries strive to obtain nuclear weapons, raising the risk of accidental use or unauthorized acquisition.

How has the nuclear taboo evolved over the years?

  • Post WWII: Post WWII, Following the extreme devastation caused by the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was discussion on the ethical implications of nuclear weapons. This continued during the Cold War era also which started to shape public opinion and political discourse against the arms race.
  • Nuclear disarmament: Efforts were made to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and reduce nuclear testing. E.g., Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) 1963. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) 1968, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) 1996, & finally Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons 2017.
  • Post-Cold War: With the conclusion of the Cold War came major reductions in nuclear arsenals because accords like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and the decommissioning of nuclear weapons by former Soviet states & notion of a “nuclear-free world” gained popularity.
  • Humanitarian initiatives: The effects of nuclear weapons on society, especially the effects on the environment, human health, and socioeconomic conditions, have drawn attention. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) were prominent in advocating for the humanitarian approach to nuclear disarmament.


While the efforts on disarmament, and non-proliferation seem to be partially successful the challenges such as geopolitical rivalries and technological advancements continue to shape the narrative around nuclear weapons and their place in global security.

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