What is the Theory of Nuclear Peace?

Introduction Nuclear peace is a theory of international relations which argues that the presence of nuclear weapons may in some circumstances decrease the risk of crisis escalation, since parties will seek to avoid situations that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons. Proponents of nuclear peace theory therefore believe that controlled nuclear proliferation may… Read More


What is the Samson Option?

Introduction The Samson Option (Hebrew: ברירת שמשון, b’rerat shimshon) is the name that some military analysts and authors have given to Israel’s deterrence strategy of massive retaliation with nuclear weapons as a “last resort” against a country whose military has invaded and/or destroyed much of Israel. Commentators also have employed the term to refer to… Read More

What is Dead Hand?

Introduction Dead Hand (Russian: Система «Периметр», Sistema “Perimetr”, lit. “Perimeter” System, with the GRAU Index 15E601, Cyrillic: 15Э601), also known as Perimeter, is a Cold War-era automatic nuclear weapons-control system (similar in concept to the American AN/DRC-8 Emergency Rocket Communications System) that was constructed by the Soviet Union. The system remains in use in the… Read More

What are Letters of Last Resort?

Introduction The letters of last resort are four identically-worded handwritten letters from the prime minister of the United Kingdom (UK) to the commanding officers of the four British ballistic missile submarines. Refer to Operation Looking Glass, Dead Hand, and the Samson Option. They contain orders on what action to take if an enemy nuclear strike… Read More

An Overview of Mutual Assured Destruction

Introduction Mutual assured destruction (MAD) is a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy which posits that a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by an attacker on a nuclear-armed defender with second-strike (see below) capabilities would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender. It is based on the theory of… Read More

An Overview of Deterrence Theory

Introduction Deterrence theory refers to the scholarship and practice of how threats or limited force by one party can convince another party to refrain from initiating some other course of action. The topic gained increased prominence as a military strategy during the Cold War with regard to the use of nuclear weapons and is related… Read More