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Evaluating the Nuclear Peace Hypothesis: A Quantitative Approach

by R. Rauchhaus
Journal of Conflict Resolution ()

Abstract

Do nuclear weapons reduce the probability of war? This article quantitatively evaluates the nuclear peace hypothesis. The results indicate that the impact of nuclear weapons is more complicated than is conventionally appreciated. Both proliferation optimists and pessimists find confirmation of some of their key claims. When a nuclear asymmetry exists between two states, there is a greater chance of militarized disputes and war. In contrast, when there is symmetry and both states possess nuclear weapons, then the odds of war precipitously drop. When combined, these findings provide support for the existence of the stability-instability paradox. evidence suggests that while nuclear weapons promote strategic stability, they simultaneously allow for more risk-taking in lower intensity disputes.

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