Nuclear Taboo

The concept of nuclear taboo emerged as possibly the most surprising outcome of the nuclear age: Outside of the United States’ use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no other instances of use of nuclear weapons have been recorded since. Despite incentives to the contrary, cold war conflicts including the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Middle East wars, and the Soviet Union’s campaign in Afghanistan did not result in the use of nuclear weapons. The nuclear taboo, therefore, refers to the restraint shown by nuclear states when it comes to the use of their nuclear arsenal in conflict. This behavior is the result of a restrictive norm; that is, a standard of behavior expected of actors in social interactions, which constrains the available choice ...

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