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The Presidents and the Red Button

If we have actually receded from the threat of nuclear war, one might think the presidents of the US and Russia might relax their nuclear appetite. The realities are a little different however.

Boris Yeltsin reached for his nuclear briefcase containing the codes as soon as he was out of his anaesthetic. It is one of his greatest security items without which he feels incomplete.

Bill Clinton has changed the US nuclear propocols from winning a protracted nuclear war to require the military to aim its nuclear forces to deter the use of nuclear weapons by threatening a devastating response. Who and what are likely to be devastated in such a response remains unclear, raising again the zero-infinity dilemma of nuclear weapons.