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date: 21 November 2017

Summary and Keywords

This essay reviews academic research on the role of nuclear weapons in foreign policy. It begins by discussing the “Theory of the Nuclear Revolution,” which holds that nuclear weapons revolutionized world politics due to their overwhelming destructive capacity. The article then identifies several ways in which this theory has been challenged in scholarship. The article focuses in particular on four big debates in the literature on nuclear weapons and foreign policy: Does nuclear proliferation promote international peace and stability? Are nuclear weapons useful for coercive diplomacy? Do nuclear weapons make countries more assertive? How does nuclear strategy influence deterrence and security? After discussing these debates, the article concludes by calling for more research on the implications of dual-use nuclear technology for foreign policy and international security.

Keywords: nuclear weapons, nuclear proliferation, nuclear posture, deterrence, coercive diplomacy, strategy, foreign policy

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