Strategic Stability and U.S. Nuclear Modernization

Strategic Stability and U.S. Nuclear Modernization

PROGRAM ON STRATEGIC STABILITY EVALUATION (POSSE)www.posse.gatech.edu__________________________________________________________________________Strategic Stability and U.S. Nuclear ModernizationKeir A. Lieber and Daryl G. PressProgram on Strategic Stability Evaluation (POSSE)June 20, 2011

www.posse.gatech.eduNuclear weapons policy in the Obama administration rests on two official goals: First,the U.S. seeks further reductions in the size of its nuclear arsenal in order to demonstrateAmerica’s commitment to the long-term goal of global nuclear disarmament. Second, in themeantime, the U.S. aims to maintain an effective nuclear arsenal in order to deter potentialadversaries from using nuclear weapons and assure U.S. allies that they can count on America’ssecurity guarantee. Much of the contemporary nuclear policy debate centers on the compatibilityof these two objectives: T hose on t he “left” argue that the Obama administration’s plans tomodernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal undermine non-proliferation norms, while those on t he“right” argue that further nuclear cuts will jeopardize U.S. national security.These debates are heating up because several crucial decisions about the future of theU.S. nuclear arsenal are looming.The Obama administration is undertaking a review ofAmerica’s strategic nuclear requirements with an eye toward developing options for further cuts.At the same time, Congress is debating the administration’s plans for refurbishing or replacingaging nuclear delivery systems.Unfortunately, analysts and policymakers considering nuclear weapons reductions andmodernization plans may be ignoring two crucial points: (1) the nuclear deterrence challengesthe United States is likely to face in the coming years will be much more demanding than theones we faced during the Cold War; and (2) in those circumstances, it will matter greatly – fordeterrence, assurance, and damage-limitation purposes – what types of nuclear capabilities theUnited States retains in its arsenal.1 Program on Strategic Stability Evaluation

www.posse.gatech.eduAdversary Coercive Nuclear EscalationWhen analysts think about nuclear deterrence, they often reflexively think aboutpeacetime or crisis deterrence. Peacetime nuclear deterrence is relatively easy; in almost anycircumstance, the dangers associated with a country’s day-to-day security concerns pale incomparison to the horrible consequences that would likely ensue if they began a nuclear war.Crisis deterrence is a more serious challenge. For example, during the Cold War, analysts spentyears considering the risk that one state’s defensive preparations in the midst of a crisis might bemisinterpreted as evidence of a coming attack, thereby triggering a “use ‘em or lose ‘em” logic.The solution: better crisis communication, as well as robust survivable forces that could retaliatein devastating fashion even after absorbing a first strike. In the coming years, as long as theUnited States retains even a moderately large force, married to survivable delivery systems, therisks of peacetime and crisis deterrence failure seem manageable.A greater danger for the United States lies in wartime nuclear deterrence – i.e., thechallenge of deterring nuclear escalation during a conventional war. Intra-war deterrence will bechallenging because in many circumstances future U.S. adversaries will have compelling rationalreasons to use nuclear weapons to avoid catastrophic defeat. Consider the argument further:Unless the nature of U.S. grand strategy changes dramatically, it is only a matter of timebefore the U.S. fights a conventional war against a smaller nuclear-armed adversary. The UnitedStates maintains an extensive network of alliances around the globe. An important dimension ofthese alliances is the U.S. nuclear umbrella – our commitment to deter nuclear strikes on U.S.2 Program on Strategic Stability Evaluation

www.posse.gatech.eduThe prospect of nuclear escalation in a conventional conflict is not far-fetched. Coercivenuclear escalation was NATO strategy during the Cold War. Back then, the United States and itsNATO allies in Europe faced what appeared to be an overwhelmingly superior conventionalforce in the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. If the Red Army invaded, Western Europe wasexpected to fall quickly – if the fighting were limited to the conventional level. To compensatefor this weakness, NATO planned to use nuclear weapons early in a conflict. A strategy ofcoercive nuclear escalation was designed to deter a Soviet attack, mitigate the militaryconsequences of the conventional imbalance if war came, and – above all – to compel theSoviets to cease the attack before NATO was defeated. In short, the strategy for employingnuclear weapons that the United States relied on when it was relatively weak is the same strategythat potential U.S. adversaries should be expected to rely upon today – now that they are the onesthat confront the prospect of conventional defeat. (Indeed, the incentive is arguably stronger forthese states: defeat to the United States would likely entail the end of the regime and its leaders,whereas NATO’s defeat would not have had the same consequences back in the United States.)There is no need to look back to the Cold War to find countries planning to use nuclearweapons in this fashion – i.e., to stalemate militarily superior adversaries. In fact, relying onnuclear weapons to counter conventional superiority is the strategy of several countries today.Russia officially justifies its nuclear arsenal as a means of compensating for its conventionalmilitary inferiority vis-à-vis the West. The growth in Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is aimed atcountering India’s superior conventional forces; many analysts believe Pakistan’s response toIndia’s “Cold Start” conventional attack plan would entail the immediate use of its tactical4 Program on Strategic Stability Evaluation

₂. 制 度 の 概 要次 の2 計 画 は、 申 請 企 業 の 規 模 に 限 定 がなく( 世 界 的 な 大 企 業 でも 地 方 の 中 小 企 業 でも 申 請可 能 )、 計 画 中 に 位 置 付 けられた 設 備 投 資 に2009 年 度 および2008 年 度 の2 年 間 は 全 額 即 時 償却 の 特 例 が 付 いており( 金 融 危 機 を 踏 まえた 経済 対 策 の 一 環 )、 当 該 即 時 償 却 は 一 定 の 効 果 がある 設 備 であれば、どの 業 種 のどのような 設 備でも 対 象 となり 得 る 上 に、 一 定 の 施 設 ( 建 物 等 )まで 対 象 に 含 んでいることから、 支 援 策 の 活 用可 能 性 が 相 当 に 大 きい。ご 関 心 を 持 たれた 方 は、 担 当 課 ( 経 済 産 業 政策 局 産 業 再 生 課 )にお 問 合 せいただきたい。⑴ 資 源 生 産 性 革 新 計 画企 業 または 事 業 所 の 資 源 生 産 性 (エネルギー使 用 量 またはエネルギー 起 源 二 酸 化 炭 素 排 出 量当 たりの 付 加 価 値 額 )を 高 める 事 業 計 画 の 認 定を 行 う(2 条 8 項 、12 項 、11 条 )。1 申 請 単 位企 業 単 位 のほか、 年 間 エネルギー 使 用 量 が 原油 換 算 3,000kl 以 上 の 事 業 所 単 位 でも 申 請 を 可 能とする。2 計 画 の 認 定 基 準次 のいずれかの 基 準 を 超 えることを 要 件 として 課 す。⒜ エネルギー 生 産 性 (※1)を6% 以 上 向 上かつ 炭 素 生 産 性 を 悪 化 させない。⒝ 炭 素 生 産 性 (※2)を7% 以 上 向 上 かつエネルギー 生 産 性 を 悪 化 させない。※1 エネルギー 生 産 性 = 付 加 価 値 額 (※3)/エネルギー 消 費 量※2 炭 素 生 産 性 = 付 加 価 値 額 /エネルギー起 源 二 酸 化 炭 素 排 出 量※3 付 加 価 値 額 = 営 業 利 益 + 人 件 費 + 減 価償 却 費( 注 ) 経 済 情 勢 の 急 速 な 悪 化 を 踏 まえた 暫 定措 置 として、2010 年 度 末 までの 間 に 計画 に 基 づく 具 体 的 な 措 置 ( 組 織 再 編 や設 備 投 資 )を 実 施 する 計 画 については、「エネルギー 生 産 性 を4% 以 上 向上 」「 炭 素 生 産 性 を5% 以 上 向 上 」と 認定 基 準 を 緩 和 する。3 資 源 生 産 性 革 新 設 備 等 の 基 準ア 資 源 生 産 性 を 向 上 させる 設 備認 定 計 画 に 基 づき 導 入 する 次 の 設 備 等 のうち、 一 定 の 基 準 を 超 えるものについては、 当 該設 備 等 を 事 業 の 用 に 供 した 初 年 度 に、 全 額 を 費用 として 即 時 償 却 することを 認 める。⒜ 導 入 される 事 業 所 の 資 源 生 産 性 を 向 上 させるために 必 要 な 機 械 および 装 置 一 式( 設 備 の 種 類 に 限 定 はない。 一 定 の 効 果がある 設 備 であれば 種 類 を 問 わず 対 象 となる)⒝ 導 入 される 事 業 所 の 資 源 生 産 性 を 向 上 させるために 必 要 な 建 物 、 建 物 附 属 設 備 または 構 築 物 ( 次 のいずれか)⒤ 設 備 と 施 設 が 一 体 となって 資 源 生 産 性を 向 上 させるもの( 人 の 活 動 環 境 を 改善 するための 空 調 機 器 の 稼 働 により 資源 生 産 性 を 向 上 させる 場 合 を 除 く)( 具 体 例 としては、 クリーンルーム、自 動 倉 庫 、データセンター)ⅱ 物 流 効 率 化 のための 倉 庫イ 一 定 の 基 準超 えるべき「 一 定 の 基 準 」とは、 次 のとおりである。⒜ 既 存 の 事 業 所 については、 導 入 する 事 業所 の 資 源 生 産 性 を 導 入 前 後 で1% 以 上 向上 させるもの、または 付 加 価 値 を 一 定 としたときに 原 油 換 算 500klの 省 エネと 同等 の 効 果 があるもの。78 日 本 貿 易 会 月 報

www.posse.gatech.eduthe adversary leadership. B ut, given the likely location of leadership bunkers, this wouldprobably kill hundreds of thousands of civilians (or more), and might not prevent furtheradversary nuclear strikes from already deployed forces. F ourth, U.S. leaders could launchconventional or nuclear counterforce strikes on the adversary’s nuclear arsenal, seeking toprevent further escalation in the most direct way. B ut there is no g uarantee that all of theadversary’s nuclear weapons would be destroyed – indeed, if the attack is conventional, thatprospect is remote – and, if high-yield nuclear weapons are used, such an attack could still killmillions of civilians. It is precisely because all of these options are bad that a rational adversarywith its back to the wall might view coercive nuclear escalation as the best strategy forforestalling defeat.Several key questions emerge from this analysis: What role would or could the U.S.nuclear arsenal play in deterring coercive nuclear escalation? Would a U.S. leader have anyacceptable options for using nuclear weapons to defend U.S. forces or allies? Could the natureof the U.S. arsenal make adversary escalation look less likely to pay off than under currentcircumstances?The kind of nuclear force retained by the United States could have significantimplications for how a U.S. leader is compelled to deter – and if necessary respond to – theabove scenario. C onsider what would happen if, as some in the arms control communityrecommend, the United States were to eliminate the ICBM and bomber legs of the nuclear Triad– leaving only a “survivable” retaliatory force of SSBNs armed with high-yield nuclear warheadson SLBMs (i.e., 455 kiloton W88s, and 100 kiloton W76s). The rationale for such a move would7 Program on Strategic Stability Evaluation

www.posse.gatech.eduSimply put, the difference between the consequences of high- and low-yield weapons isenormous. Discussion of nuclear “war-fighting” or “damage-limitation” missions such as thisare often derided as old Cold War thinking, but any U.S. president facing an adversary coercivenuclear escalatory campaign would clearly see a compelling difference between the two options.To argue otherwise is to assume that the basic scenario – the U.S. fighting conventionally againsta nuclear-armed state – will never occur, or that all instances of nuclear weapons are essentiallyequivalent in terms of collateral damage. Both assumptions would be wrong. Meanwhile,reducing the U.S. deterrent option to something that entails killing millions undermines thecredibility of deterrent threats – in effect, it makes deterrence based on a bluff, which is not awise strategy.Unfortunately, the United States may move in precisely that direction. In pursuit of thegoal of making nuclear weapons less “usable” – which makes strategic sense on one levelbecause of America’s supremacy in conventional military power – U.S. officials may underminedeterrence and endanger U.S. national security.In the decade after the Cold War, the U.S. vastly increased its counterforce capabilities.Today, U.S. high-yield weapons can reliably destroy the most hardened adversary silos – albeitwith huge consequences for noncombatants. Low-yield U.S. nuclear weapons – for example, thewarheads on a ir-delivered cruise missiles and bombs – can (or could easily be modified to)destroy vital enemy nuclear targets as well, and do s o and with vastly reduced consequences.The danger is that we may be cutting the arsenal in a way that preserves only the high-yield“overkill” weapons. Consider the relevant characteristics of the current arsenal:9 Program on Strategic Stability Evaluation

www.posse.gatech.eduThe Triad consists of land-based ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles,and air-delivered bombs and cruise missiles. All of the ballistic missiles – on ICBMs andSLBMs – carry only high-yield nuclear warheads, ranging from 100 t o 455 ki lotons, whichwould almost certainly cause significant lethal fallout if used in a counterforce strike. Only theweapons deployed on bombers and other dual-capable aircraft – the ALCMs, B-61s, and B-83s –have relative low-yield options, going as low as 0.3 kilotons. If accurate enough, these weaponswould be unlikely to cause significant fallout when used in a counterforce strike.The air-breathing leg of the Triad faces the most questions when it comes to the future ofthe U.S. nuclear arsenal. The B-2 bomber, which can deliver the B-61 and B-83 warheads, willneed some kind of standoff (i.e., cruise missile) capability soon because of projected advances inenemy detection and anti-air capabilities.The B-52, which can deliver bombs and cruisemissiles, will soon need a replacement for the current ALCM – the so-called “long range standoff” (LRSO) cruise missile is underway, but far from fully funded. The B-61 bomb needs amajor Life Extension Program – again, planning is underway, but funding is not assured. At thispoint, it is unclear whether the new generation bomber will have a nuclear capability, or whetherthe F-35 will actually be made nuclear-capable.It is possible that some of these nuclear delivery systems are unnecessary if others aremodernized. For example, if the LRSO has low-yield options and is highly accurate, and if theTrident II missile is given a major accuracy enhancement, perhaps F-35 does not need to benuclear, as other systems will contribute the primary capabilities the F-35 brings to the force10 Program on Strategic Stability Evaluation, yield flexibility, high-accuracy, and potentially prompt to target).Making specificdeterminations about force size and mix requires details about targeting plans that areunavailable at the unclassified level.The point here is not that the 21 st Century arsenal must mirror the Cold War force – e.g.,with a full strategic Triad plus dual-capable aircraft ready to deliver nuclear weapons. The pointis that (a) these delivery systems bring different mixes of capabilities to the table; (b) the UnitedStates may require deterrent forces that combine low-yield, high-accuracy, and prompt-deliveryin a single system; and (c) these considerations must be at the forefront of deliberations aboutnuclear force modernization.ConclusionRather than reiterate the above points, we conclude by rejecting a popular justification forfurther nuclear arms reductions. Simply put, there is no convincing reason to cut the U.S. arsenalfor the purpose of maintaining global support for U.S. nonproliferation goals.The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires the United States “to pursue negotiations in good faith oneffective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race…and to nuclear disarmament.”Frankly, it should be easy for the Obama administration – as well as prior administrations – toclaim good faith negotiations toward nuclear disarmament: since the Cold War, the U.S. hasreduced its strategic arsenal by 85% (from roughly 10,000 s trategic operationally deployedwarheads in 1990 to roughly 1,500 today).11 Program on Strategic Stability Evaluation

www.posse.gatech.eduOf course, countries that are unsympathetic toward the United States may minimize thesignificance of the vast U.S. reductions that have already occurred. And those who wish to seenew nuclear-armed states emerge will refuse to join global efforts to slow or stop proliferation.But the past decade’s cuts should be seen in a more sympathetic light by impartial observers.Those who clamor for deeper U.S. cuts claim that Washington must do so in order to maintainbroad global support for the NPT. But those proponents should explain how additional cuts willimpress skeptical observers, when past cuts have so far failed to do so.This is not to argue that the U.S. nuclear arsenal must stay at its current size. Rather,U.S. planners should work through a simple exercise and ask four questions: What actions doU.S. leaders wish to deter with nuclear weapons? In what circumstances might those actions betaken? W hat threats would U.S. leaders wish to issue to prevent those actions? What forcesdoes the United States need to carry out those threats? Those four questions should lead forceplanners to a force size – and, more importantly, a mix of capabilities – required of the futureU.S. nuclear arsenal. If careful analyses of those requirements point to deeper cuts – evenaccounting for uncertainties in future adversary capabilities over the coming decades – thendoing so would be wise policy, and entirely consistent with U.S. national security interests.12 Program on Strategic Stability Evaluation

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines