Nuclear Weapons



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Nuclear Weapons



Detonation refers to the sudden and violent explosion, including that of a nuclear

weapon. Since the Second World War in the 1940s, there has been no war-related detonation

of a nuclear weapon around the globe. Though this might sound positive, it is a major issue

currently facing the United States National Security due to the fear that such weapons might

be used by terrorists against America. Currently, terrorism is considered one of the major

threats to the United States, and the country has been at the forefront of fighting against all

terrorist acts. In order to prevent such incidences, and its innumerable social, economic, and

environmental effects, this issue should be addressed as urgently as possible and with all

vigour (Kaufman, 2006).

Facing such a threat will undoubtedly go beyond simply tracking down the assailants

or issuing mild warnings to the rogue states that they will be condemned for their actions. It

will require banning all nuclear weapons as the viable instruments of warfare. This is one of

the instances where things are easier said than done because a change of this policy can be

very difficult to implement. This is because the general public, as well as national leaders,

have little experience in the devastating effects of nuclear weapons; they actually ignore the

moral taboos that explain their use. This document mainly focuses on this prickly issue by

assessing the nuclear taboo and nuclear deterrence (Mueller, 2000). Later on, the paper will

outline the importance of using the two methods in explaining nuclear detonation.

Brief Overview of the Nuclear Taboo

According to Tannenwald (2007), the nuclear taboo is the final result of over a decade

of investigations, analysis and writing on the failure of the nuclear weapon use. Nina

Tannenwald is an associate research professor at Watson Institute of International Studies. In

her book, she argues that it is not the realist stress on the self-interest and cost-benefit

evaluations of rationalists that have contributed to the non-use of nuclear weapons since

Nuclear Weapons


1945. She successfully integrates the constructivist theory supported with more conventional

explanations, like deterrence, to explain how various ideas related to national identity – a

reasonable use of weapons, the morality in warfare, and norms – have played important roles

in the world. She stresses on how the bottom line of the taboo firstly emerged from mere

beliefs within the entire public that exerted a lot of pressure on political leaders (Elworthy,

2005; Scilla, 2005; Gabrielle, 2005). Ironically, these beliefs were later legally

institutionalised in arms control agreements.

Tannenwald‟s detailed accounts on how nuclear decisions have been made in the US

White House were of massive interest to a wide range of audience. They followed the pattern

that the book arranged in three integrated themes: a historical account of nuclear weapons of

the non-use by the US since 1945, the factors and processes linking the rationales and self-

interest which contributed to the emergence of the nuclear taboo, and the effects of the

evolving nuclear taboo on the foreign policy of the United States.

In her argument, these are the norms that influenced the US warfare decisions in three

main ways. Firstly, the norms define the constraints of acceptable actions that limit the policy

options and strategy. Secondly, these norms are constitutive. This fact has the implication that

they shape identities; for example, the identity of a sovereign nation that outlines the rule and

strategy preferences (Elworthy, 2005; Scilla, 2005; Gabrielle, 2005). Thirdly, the norms can

play the role of shielding complementary practices, like the use of conservative weapons

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