Cover image for Planning the unthinkable : how new powers will use nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons
Planning the unthinkable : how new powers will use nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons
Lavoy, Peter R. (Peter René), 1961-
Publication Information:
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
viii, 270 pages ; 24 cm.
The origins of military doctrine and command and control systems / Scott D. Sagan -- Saddam's toxic arsenal: chemical and biological weapons in the Gulf Wars / Timothy V. McCarthy and Jonathan B. Tucker -- The Islamic Republic of Iran and nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons / Gregory F. Giles -- Nuclear arms in crisis under secrecy: Israel and the lessons of the 1967 and 1973 wars / Avner Cohen -- India's nuclear use doctrine / Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu -- Pakistan's nuclear use doctrine and command and control / Zafar Iqbal Cheema -- The Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea and unconventional weapons / Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. -- Terrorist motivations and unconventional weapons / Jessica Stern -- Conclusions: planning the unthinkable / Lewis A. Dunn, Peter R. Lavoy, and Scott D. Sagan.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
U793 .P53 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons is now the single most serious security concern for governments around the world. Peter R. Lavoy, Scott D. Sagan, and James J. Wirtz compare how military threats, strategic cultures, and organizations shape the way leaders intend to employ these armaments. They reveal the many frightening ways that emerging military powers and terrorist groups are planning the unthinkable by preparing to use chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons in future conflicts. Distinguished specialists consider several states and organizations that have this weaponry: Iraq, Iran, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel, as well as the Aum Shinrikyo cult. The contributors expose plans for using unconventional weapons, highlighting the revolutionary effects these arsenals might have on international politics and regional disputes.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Another outstanding volume in the "Cornell Security Affairs" series, this edited work provides the first systematic examination of the integration of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons into the military doctrines and systems of command for emerging powers. A chapter by Sagan sets up the questions and theoretical approaches that tie the volume together, focusing on the relative value of realist, organizational, and strategic culture approaches to understanding doctrine. Each of the next several chapters examines how a particular state or variety of nonstate actors deal with these weapons: Iraq, Iran, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and terrorists. The concluding section of the work effectively pulls together lessons learned from each case for policy and for general understanding of international relations. Taken as a whole, the cases support the contention that to group nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons within the generic term "weapons of mass destruction" is harmful to understanding the significant differences among these weapons. Coupled with the variation found among states, these studies provide a necessary correction to the oversimplifications of policymakers and academics. Highly recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above. D. McIntosh; Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania