The military utility of nuclear weapons
Nuclear weapons are commonly presented and perceived as political tools. Yet, the merit of any tool ultimately hinges on its practical utility. The military doctrines of contemporary nuclear-armed states and alliances refer to nuclear weapons’ ability to deter aggressors, bolster non-proliferation, and contribute to alliance cohesion. As for practical application, it has been argued that nuclear weapons could be used as either bunker busters, neutralizers of other weapons of mass destruction, or in the defence of national territory and vital interests. Critically analysing these suggested areas of use, the authors find that the viability of using nuclear weapons for such tasks is highly limited, and generally equalled by alternative means. If appropriate uses for nuclear weapons cannot be found, states should divert the resources invested in such weapons to conventional technologies in order to increase their defensive capability.