U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Confronting Today's Threats

George Bunn
Christopher F. Chyba
Foreword by William J. Perry
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 360
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt6wpfwh
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  • Book Info
    U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
    Book Description:

    What role should nuclear weapons play in today's world? How can the United States promote international security while safeguarding its own interests?U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policyinforms this debate with an analysis of current nuclear weapons policies and strategies, including those for deterring, preventing, or preempting nuclear attack; preventing further proliferation, to nations and terrorists; modifying weapons designs; and revising the U.S. nuclear posture. Presidents Bush and Clinton made major changes in U.S. policy after the Cold War, and George W. Bush's administration made further, more radical changes after 9/11. Leaked portions of 2001's Nuclear Posture Review, for example, described more aggressive possible uses for nuclear weapons. This important volume examines the significance of such changes and suggests a way forward for U.S. policy, emphasizing stronger security of nuclear weapons and materials, international compliance with nonproliferation obligations, attention to the demand side of proliferation, and reduced reliance on nuclear weapons in U.S. foreign policy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-1367-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    WILLIAM J. PERRY

    For almost four decades during the cold war, the world was faced with the terrible prospect of a nuclear holocaust. The United States and the Soviet Union confronted each other with nuclear arsenals capable of destroying the world. Each year the size and the destructive power of these arsenals increased until they reached levels that could not have been imagined at the beginning of the cold war and to this day seem surreal. Moreover, because of the mutual suspicion and hostility of the two nations, each kept its arsenal on hair-trigger alert. Thus a deadly nuclear exchange could occur not...

  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. one A World of Risk: The Current Environment For U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
    (pp. 1-33)
    Christopher F. Chyba and Karthika Sasikumar

    The United States currently has some 10,000 nuclear weapons in its stockpile.¹ They are there because of a long chain of technical and political decisions made in the past. Although current U.S. nuclear weapons policy may be understood in light of this history, it should be assessed in the context of present international security risks. These risks include dangers left over from the cold war era, challenges posed by states that are newly growing in power, and the dramatic new presence of nonstate actors. The salient features of this new environment, the context of technology and international politics in which...

  6. two Deterrence, Preventive War, and Preemption
    (pp. 34-74)
    David Holloway

    The Bush administration has made important changes in U.S. national security strategy and nuclear weapons policy. It withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in December 2001, and in October 2004 it began to deploy a national missile defense system.¹ It has outlined possible new missions for nuclear weapons and taken steps to enhance U.S. readiness to resume nuclear testing. Besides these specific steps, the administration has issued a number of statements that appear to mark a significant shift in U.S. thinking about nuclear weapons.

    The first such statement was the Nuclear Posture Review, which Secretary of Defense Donald H....

  7. three The Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime and Its History
    (pp. 75-125)
    George Bunn

    ʺThe proliferation of nuclear weapons poses the greatest threat to our national security,” said President George W. Bush in his National Security Strategy of 2006. To deal with this continuing threat, the United States over the past half-century has helped build an international “nonproliferation regime.” This chapter describes the regime and its history. The regime consists of international agreements and cooperative national actions to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to additional countries or to terrorists.

    The initiating agreement for the regime was the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (or Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT) of 1968. The NPT had...

  8. four New Challenges to the Nonproliferation Regime
    (pp. 126-160)
    Christopher F. Chyba, Chaim Braun and George Bunn

    Since the end of the cold war, the nuclear nonproliferation regime has faced new challenges. These include the spread of nuclear weapon technology to more states as well as the danger that a terrorist group could acquire the material needed for a nuclear explosion. While these challenges have always been present, the increased vulnerability to theft of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) after the collapse of the Soviet Union, coupled with the rise of nuclear smuggling networks and the visibility of mass casualty terrorism, suggests that the nonproliferation regime faces a new world of risk.

    The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty...

  9. five Strategies for Tackling Proliferation Challenges
    (pp. 161-219)
    Christopher F. Chyba, Chaim Braun and George Bunn

    The nuclear nonproliferation regime faces grave challenges.¹ The most serious of these (see chapters 3 and 4) include illicit nuclear smuggling networks, latent proliferation under the guise of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), three or four states with nuclear weapons outside the NPT, the extent to which the nuclear weapon states are living up to their NPT obligations, and the ongoing diffusion of technology relevant to nuclear weapons.² The regime is particularly threatened if NPT signatories such as North Korea or Iran successfully pursue nuclear weapons. It has been argued that failure to stop North Korea and Iran from acquiring...

  10. six Defenses against Nuclear Attack on the United States
    (pp. 220-247)
    W. K. H. Panofsky and Dean A. Wilkening

    During the cold war, U.S. defenses against nuclear attack focused primarily on interdicting ballistic missile and air delivery by the former Soviet Union. Since then the emphasis has shifted to defending against such attack by hostile regional powers and, more important, the interdiction of clandestine delivery by nonstate actors. Although ballistic missile defense occupies a prominent place in the American defense debate and therefore merits some attention here, the emphasis is on interdicting air and covert delivery, specifically, controlling U.S. borders and interdicting air attacks that employ commercial aircraft or cruise missiles launched from nearby territories or seas, with only...

  11. seven Assessing the United Statesʹ Nuclear Posture
    (pp. 248-296)
    Roger Speed and Michael May

    George W. Bush’s National Security Strategy is a bold departure from previous U.S. policy. First announced in September 2002 and reiterated in March 2006, it declares that the United States now finds itself in a unique position of military and political dominance and that it has a moral duty to use this strength to establish a new liberal democratic world order, “with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”¹ To achieve this envisioned democratic, peaceful world, it argues, the United States must in effect establish and maintain a global military hegemony.²

    According to the strategy, carrying out this...

  12. eight U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policies for a New Era
    (pp. 297-324)
    George Bunn and Christopher F. Chyba

    National decisions about the construction and employment of nuclear weapons are among the most consequential that any government, and any national leader, can make. Hundreds of thousands of lives, possibly many millions, rest on making these decisions well. While the consequences of a wrong decision may be smaller today than during the cold war, the context for these decisions is now more complex and uncertain, as is the manner in which they may ramify through the entire international system.

    What role should U.S. nuclear weapons play in the world today? What related policies should the United States follow to promote...

  13. About the Authors
    (pp. 325-328)
  14. Index
    (pp. 329-340)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 341-342)