AND THE TRADITION
whil e the united states is the pivotal case in examining the tradition of non-use, a brief survey of the nuclear policies of the other four core nuclear weapon states (Russia, Britain, France, and China) is important in order to understand whether they have contributed to the rise and observance of the tradition of non-use. It is vital also to explore whether these other major nuclear powers have been affected by the tradition with respect to the potential use of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states. This chapter seeks to answer the following additional questions: How have these other declared nuclear weapons states perceived the utility of nuclear weapons vis-à-vis nonnuclear states, especially in the crises/wars in which they have been involved? How have their evolving positions on nuclear first use affected the tradition of non-use? The discussion here is amplified in Chapter 7's examination of some of the key wars that these states have fought with their nonnuclear rivals.
The Soviet Union's contribution to the tradition is not well understood because of the dearth of released archival materials. The actual behavior of the Soviet Union during its crises and wars involving nonnuclear states indicates that Moscow rarely—if at all—brandished its nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states. This apparent restraint suggests that the Soviet Union and its successor, Russia, have clearly observed the tradition of non-use and have played a crucial role in the emergence and sustenance of the tradition over half a century1 However, in the post-Cold War era, due to the decline of its conventional capabilities, Russia has been increasingly relying on nuclear weapons