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The Nuclear Taboo

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The next possessors of nuclear weapons may be Iran, North Korea or possibly some terrorist bodies. Is there hope that they will have absorbed the near-universal inhibition against the use of nuclear weapons, or will at least be inhibited by the recognition that the taboo enjoys widespread acclaim? Part of the answer will depend on whether the U.S. recognizes that inhibition as an asset to be cherished, enhanced, and protected, or whether, like [Secretary of State John Foster] Dulles, it believes "somehow or other we must manage to remove the taboo from the use of these weapons."

Mr. Schelling, professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, is a Nobel Laureate for economics for 2005.