Taken from Wikipedia:

Nuclear peace is a theory of international relations that argues that under some circumstances nuclear weapons can induce stability and decrease the chances of crisis escalation.

Is this true that nuclear weapons contributed to preservation of peace more than anti-war movement? I've found 2 studies that came to such conclusion but don't know if they're reliable.

Kenneth Waltz, political scientist from University of California and Columbia University, in monograph The Spread of Nuclear Weapons said:

Nuclear weapons have been the second force working for peace in the post-war world. They make the cost of war seem frighteningly high and thus discourage states from starting any wars that might lead to the use of such weapons. Nuclear weapons have helped maintain peace between the great powers and have not led their few other possessors into military adventures.

Akop Nazaretyan, cultural anthropologist and expert in collective behavior from Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, proposed law of techno-humanitarian balance that says:

The higher the power of production and war technologies, the more advanced behavior regulation means are required to enable the self-preservation of a society.

  • Not sure exactly how you would test this. I don't doubt that political tbeorists take guesses, and use statistics, but its probably just damned lies. Besides nuclear war, other factors have been promoted as lessening the chances of war; free trade; democracy; etc. Additionally, Nuclear Peace theory isn't that strong of a claim, "under some circumstances nuclear weapons can induce stability and decrease the chances of crisis escalation." With all those conditionals, it probably is true.
    – user1873
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 13:56
  • Seems to be true...until it's not anymore.
    – user1530
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 22:51
  • Its a theory not a proof or a law... so it is someone elses belief. you can not challenge the truth of a belief just the feasibility of it. Commented May 19, 2014 at 20:55
  • One might argue that the risk of any open NATO/Russian conflict going nuclear has been a reason why the current Ukraine situation hasn't been escalated to a full-scale military conflict; but it's hard to say if that's the case - such questions usually can be answered only a generation after the fact, when memoirs are being written and old documents become declassifited.
    – Peteris
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 18:58
  • @user1873 - easy to test. That's what game theory and psych experiments are for.
    – user4012
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 23:39

2 Answers 2


The current status quo is no country that has nuclear weapons has been invaded, which does seem to point towards possessing nuclear arms to be a strong deterrent of invasion. Post Cold War many non nuclear countries have been attacked/invaded showing that the U.N. or purely anti-war stances alone aren't enough to achieve peace. There is still some fighting between nuclear capable countries, notably India and Pakistan, but it's no longer the same intensity it once was.

Nuclear weapons could be the cause of the relative peace since the end of the Cold War, or it could simply be that the U.S. is really the only global superpower, and other countries resort to less blatant attacks that are less likely to result in U.S. intervention. It could also be that the U.N. is doing its job for the most part and keeping things peaceful and resolving conflict by diplomatic means, which has become massively easier in modern times.

  • 3
    can you give an example of any conflict resolved by UN in last 20 years?
    – lowtech
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 16:02
  • 1
    @lowtech - sure. A conflict between UN bureaucrats and their low salaries. The UN won!
    – user4012
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 23:40
  • @DVK The UN has done a great job making countries that aren't the U.S. Russia or China feel important.
    – Ryathal
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 12:17
  • so you think it's mix of all factors or nuclear weapons play most significant part?
    – Democrat
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 19:27
  • @Democrat I'd say its part nuclear weapons, part U.S. having a big enough stick that other countries will only fight about things that the U.S. would rather not use their stick for.
    – Ryathal
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 21:26

Well it hasn't stopped ISIS bombing the UK. So it's probably not true. So far the UK hasn't dropped any nukes on ISIS territory.

It doesn't stop Ukraine/Russia fighting.

Having a nuclear weapon didn't stop 9/11. USA didn't drop any nukes on the Taliban.

  • 1
    Taliban, ISIS, and Al Qaeda are viewed as terrorist organizations, and not countries, by pretty much the entire world. Terrorists don't play by the same rules that countries do. Countries care if they get bombed into nuclear oblivion. Terrorists not so much; if anything, they might see it as a great way to become martyrs and draw more members. I think there are salient arguments to be made concerning the evolution of conflict post-ww2, and whether or not Russia is attempting to leverage nuclear fears to get its way, etc. I don't think this makes one, though. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 10:14
  • Well, you can argue that ISIS are effectively a country or rogue state. Since they have control of territory.
    – zooby
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:17
  • @zooby A country is typically defined as such if it can claim a speficic region with borders, a population that belongs to it, and a regime that is able to enforce its laws and rules. ISIS might have (had) a specific region, and a regime that was able to enact force, but it lacked the populace belonging to it. The actual number of ISIS fighters was relatively small, and most of the inhabitants of the region had to be suppressed. So no, ISIS was not a country in a classical way, and rather an occupational force.
    – Thern
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 14:41
  • @zibadawatimmy the question names 'stability' and 'crisis escalation'. You could argue that it doesn't really matter to a regular person whether their region is tormented by terrorists or state actors. Indeed, this answer illustrates (by example only) that nuclear weapons don't seem to prevent that disruption of the peace.
    – JJJ
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 20:50

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