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Investigating the relevance of deterrence for today's security issues 

Although pre-dating the nuclear age, the concept of deterrence, and in particular deterrence by punishment, became the centrepiece of nuclear strategy during the Cold War. Both policymakers and scholars are questioning the role of deterrence in today’s world, with debates focussing on the emergence of new technologies, new technologies, and new actors.  

The Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS) contributes to these debates through past and on-going projects, including research that examines the effect of social media on deterrence and escalation in the nuclear domain, at the continuing value of nuclear weapons for strategic deterrence, and at the role of deterrence and coercive diplomacy in addressing the threat of chemical weapons use. 

Exploring the strategic value of nuclear weapons

This research, conducted by Dr Susan Martin, explores the enduring strategic value of nuclear weapons. In a recent article published in Contemporary Security Policy, Dr Martin argues that only a transformation of the international political system or the emergence of an alternative means of strategic deterrence could strip them of their intrinsic value.

Research Outputs

The Obama Administration and Syrian Chemical Weapons: Deterrence, Compellence, and the Limits of the “Resolve Plus Bombs” Formula

In this article, Wyn Bowen, Matthew Moran and Jeffrey Knopf examine responses to the Syrian government’s possession and eventual use of chemical weapons (CW) in that country’s civil war in the period 2012-2013. During this time, the United States and other outside powers applied coercive strategies, in both a deterrent and compellent mode. 

Latest Publications

Arms Control

Arms Control

Applying traditional arms control methods to emerging technologies

Twitter Escalation

This research project seeks to answer an increasingly prominent and important question – how does social media influence the dynamics of conflict escalation between nation states?

social media conflict

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