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Thinking About Nuclear WeaponsPrinciples, Problems, Prospects$
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Michael Quinlan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199563944

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563944.001.0001

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Risks

Risks

Chapter:
(p.59) 6 Risks
Source:
Thinking About Nuclear Weapons
Author(s):

Michael Quinlan (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563944.003.0007

This chapter reviews a range of risks commonly believed, rightly or wrongly, to arise from the existence of nuclear weapons. It examines first the concept of stability, in two forms—deterrent stability and crisis stability. There follows an extended section on the idea of nuclear escalation, bringing out that though the possibility cannot be wholly excluded and is indeed a component of deterrence, suppositions of its inexorability are unfounded. The next section discusses whether risks of nuclear war by accident, miscalculation, or misunderstanding are substantial, and argues that they are not. The final section looks at the risk of nuclear terrorism. It considers what hurdles a would-be terrorist would have to surmount, and notes ways of keeping such hurdles as high as possible.

Keywords:   accident, escalation, miscalculation, risks, stability, terrorism

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