"Why have nuclear weapons not been used since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945? Nina Tannenwald disputes the conventional answer of 'deterrence' in favour of what she calls a nuclear taboo - a widespread inhibition on using nuclear weapons - which has arisen in global politics. Drawing on newly released archival sources, Tannenwald traces the rise of the nuclear taboo, the forces that produced it, and its influence, particularly on US leaders. She analyzes four critical instances where US leaders considered using nuclear weapons (Japan 1945, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War 1991) and examines how the nuclear taboo has repeatedly dissuaded US and other world leaders from resorting to these 'ultimate weapons'. Through a systematic analysis, Tannenwald challenges conventional conceptions of deterrence and offers a compelling argument on the moral bases of nuclear restraint as well as an important insight into how nuclear war can be avoided in the future."
Nina Tannenwald joined the Watson Institute in 1997. Her teaching and research interests lie in the area of international institutions and norms in the security area, weapons of mass destruction, and human rights and humanitarian law. Her articles have appeared in International Organization, International Security, International Studies Review, the Yale Journal of International Law, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Strategic Studies, and Ethics and International Affairs, among others. Tannenwald's book, The Nuclear Taboo: The United States and the Non-Use of Nuclear Weapons Since 1945 (Cambridge, December 2007) was awarded the Lepgold Prize for a distinguished work in international relations by Georgetown University in 2009. She has also edited, with William Wohlforth, a special issue of the Journal of Cold War Studies on the role of ideas and the end of the Cold War. Her research on why some weapons are regarded as inhumane while others are not has been supported by the MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation. She is also working on a project assessing how the Geneva Conventions on humanitarian law influence the behavior of states. Tannenwald was director of the International Relations Program at Brown from 2003-2006. She was a visiting professor in the Government Department and Peace Studies Program at Cornell in 2006-2007, and at Stanford in 2002-2003. Tannenwald has been a commentator on local radio and television, and in the op-ed pages, on nuclear weapons issues. She also has been a consultant to the United Nations Association. Prior to coming to the Watson Institute, she held fellowships at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation and Harvard's Center for Science and International Affairs, and taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She holds a master's degree from the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs and a Ph.D in international relations from Cornell University.