Deterrence pp 77-96 | Cite as

What’s in a Name? Deterrence and the Stigmatisation of WMD

  • Patricia ShamaiEmail author
Part of the Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications book series (ASTSA)


Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons are distinct methods of warfare. This distinction has led to the categorisation of these weapons under the term Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Whilst government decision makers and military experts, tend to refer to a range of terms, such as CBRN, NBC etc … to address the threat from these weapons, the term WMD is commonly referred to within the media and by the public. This term has significance and it is synonymous with the stigmatisation of these weapons. The process of stigmatisation has emerged progressively, through time, as a result of the strategic and normative quality of WMD. Even though each of these weapons differ greatly from the other, they are all perceived to cause long term, lasting destruction.


  1. Adler E (1997) Seizing the middle ground: constructivism in world politics. Eur J Int Rel 3(3):348Google Scholar
  2. Adler-Nissen R (2014) Stigma Management in International Relations: transgressive identities, norms and order in international society. Int Organ 68(1):145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balmer B (2001) Britain and biological warfare: expert advice and science policy 1930–1965. Palgrave, BasingstokeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brands H, Palkki D (2011) Saddam, Israel and the bomb: nuclear alarmism justified? Int Secur 36(1):133–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brodie B (1978) The development of nuclear strategy. Int Secur 2(4):65–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bundt TS (2004) Gas, mud and blood at Ypres: the painful lessons of chemical warfare. Mil Rev 2004: 81–82Google Scholar
  7. Central Intelligence Agency. Inter- agency Intelligence Memorandum. Impact and implications of chemical weapons use in the Iran–Iraq War. NI IIM 88-10004C. 20th March 1998. Accessed 20 Jan 2018.
  8. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Environment and Natural Resources Policy Division (1980) Nuclear proliferation Factbook: prepared for the subcommittee on energy, nuclear proliferation and Federal Services of the Committee on government affairs, US senate and the subcommittee on international economic policy and trade of the committee on foreign affairs, US house of representatives. US Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  9. First World War, US 19th Amendment: Women’s Right to Vote, 18th August 1920. Available from:
  10. Goffman E (1990) Stigma: notes on the management of spoiled identity. Prentics-Hall Inc, Englewood. 1963: Penguin Books, 1990Google Scholar
  11. Goldblat, J (1971) CB disarmament negotiations 1920–1970, Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI) vol. 4. The problem of chemical and biological warfare. Stockholm: Almqvist and WiksellGoogle Scholar
  12. Gray C (2010) Gaining compliance: the theory of deterrence and its modern application. Comp Strateg 29:278–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Guillemin J (2005) Biological weapon: from the invention of state sponsored programmes to contemporary bioterrorism. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Harris R, Paxman J (2001) A higher form of killing: the secret history of chemical and biological warfare. Arrow Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Harry S Truman Library and Museum, Public Papers of President Harry S Truman The Presidents News Conference Following the Announcement of a Joint Declaration on Atomic Energy, November 15th 1945. Available from:
  16. House of Commons Hansard. Prime Minister Theresa May. UK’s Nuclear Deterrent. 18th July 2016. Vol. 613. Column 564.
  17. Illchmann, K, Revill, J (2014) Chemical and biological weapons in the new wars. Sci Eng Ethics (2014) 20: 754Google Scholar
  18. International Committee of the Red Cross, Convention (II) with Respect to the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its Annex: Regulations concerning the laws and Customs of war on Land: The Hague 29th July 1899. Available via:
  19. Krause J (2013) The origins of chemical warfare in the French Army. War Hist 20(4):548–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kristensen H, Robert Norris R (2016) Nuclear notebook: United States nuclear forces. Bull Atom Sci 72(2):65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. League of Nations, Proceedings of the Conference for the Supervision of the International Trade in Arms, Ammunition and Impediments of War, General Committee, Reference of Chapters IV and V of the Draft Convention to the Military, Naval and Air Technical Committee: Proposal by the Bureau of the Conference, 13th Meeting, A.13.1925.IX. May 23rd 1925Google Scholar
  22. Link B, Phelan J (2001) Conceptualising stigma. Annu Rev Sociol 27(3):363–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mountbatten Centre for International Studies/Monterey Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies (2009) NPT briefing book, Section 1, ‘Nuclear energy and nuclear weapons: an introductory guide: 1–26
  24. Office of the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defence (2008) Nuclear matters: a practical guide. Washington, DC: The pentagon nuclear threat initiative. France: Nuclear. Updated May 2016. 4 Aug 2016
  25. Preston D (2015) A higher form of killing: six weeks in world war I that changed the nature of warfare. Bloomsbury Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. Price R (1995) The genealogy of the chemical weapons taboo. Int Organ 49(1):73–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Price R (2013) No strike, no problem: the right way to nurture a norm. Foreign Affairs. Snapshot. September 5th 2013Google Scholar
  28. Quinlan M (2009) Thinking about nuclear weapons: principles, problems, prospects. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Shamai P (2015) Name and shame: unravelling the stigmatization of weapons of mass destruction. Contemp Secur Policy 36(1):104–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Slatterly M (1992) Key ideas in sociology Macmillan Edition Limited 1991: Surrey: Thomas Nelson and Sons 1992Google Scholar
  31. Smart JK (1997) Chapter 2: History of chemical and biological warfare: an American perspective. In: Siddell FR, Takafuji ET, Franz D r (eds) Medical aspects of chemical and biological warfare: textbook of military medicine, Part I, Warfare, weaponry and the casualty, 3 vols. The United States Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  32. Swartz S (1998) Atomic audit: the costs and consequences of US nuclear weapons since 1940. Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  33. Tannenwald N (2005) Stigmatising the bomb: origins of the nuclear taboo. Int Secur 29(4):5–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. The Avalon Project at Yale Law School (1948) Resolution of the commission for conventional armaments, The formulation of proposals for the regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces, 12 August 1948. UN.DOCS/C.3/30.
  35. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Article II: definitions and criteria. Accessed on 27th Jan 2018.:
  36. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW): Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare (n.d.). Accessed on 27.1.18:
  37. The United Nations (1970) The United Nations and disarmament 1945–1970. The United Nations, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  38. Trilla A, Trilla G, Daer C (2008) The 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ in Spain. Clin Infect Dis 47(5):668–673CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. United Nations Security Council (n.d.) Commission for Conventional Armaments Resolutions Adopted by the Commission at its 13th Meeting, 12th August 1948 and its Second Progress Report of the Commission, 18th August 1948, s/c.3/32/Rev.1/Google Scholar
  40. US Department of State (1960) Documents on Disarmament 1945–59, Vol. 1 1946–56: ‘General Assembly Resolution 1 (1): Establishment of a Commission to Deal with the Problems Raised by the Discovery of Atomic Energy, January 24th 1946,’ Department of State Publication 7008, Washington, DC: US Government Printing OfficeGoogle Scholar
  41. Waltz K (1990) Nuclear myths and political realities. Am Polit Sci Rev 84(3):731–734CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wendt A (1992) Anarchy is what states make of it: the social construction of power politics. Int Organ 46(2):391–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Williamson S, Rearden S (1993) The origins of the US nuclear strategy 1945–53. St Martins Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PortsmouthPortsmouthUK

Personalised recommendations