Nuclear weapons have the potential to cause extraordinary devastation. They cost a vast amount of money to develop and produce, and confer prestige on nations that possess them. Yet strategic nuclear weapons have only been used in war by one country, over sixty years ago. Are nuclear weapons still relevant if no one can use them?
This course will begin with a historical overview of the development of nuclear weapons and a practical introduction to nuclear weapons and their use. In the first half of the course, we will discuss the strategic implications of nuclear weapons and of attempts to develop countermeasures; the reasons why states proliferate; the means by which nuclear weapons are obtained; and how the international community attempts to monitor proliferation. The second half of the course will be devoted to case studies of countries with past or present nuclear weapons programs.