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William C. POTTER

In Search of the Nuclear Taboo: Past, Present, and Future

Proliferation Papers, n° 31, Winter 2010

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One of the most puzzling - if positive - phenomena of the past half century is the non-use of nuclear weapons. This essay seeks to probe the underpinnings of nuclear weapons restraint, the strength and durability of the so-called nuclear "taboo" - especially in light of the rise of non-states actors who covet nuclear weapons for purposes other than deterrence - and the most likely paths by which existing restraints might be breached, broken, or dissolved.

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