Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


the potential contributions to those goals by other nonnuclear

and nonmilitary means; and,

• budget and technical realities.

The United States cannot control all of these factors with any

predictability, but it can influence some. When the alignment

of these conditions presents the opportunity for prudent deep

nuclear reductions, that opportunity should be pursued

smartly. The Bush administration’s 2002 Treaty of Moscow, for

example, contained a two-thirds reduction in the permitted

number of operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons—

from the 6,000 weapons permitted by the 1991 Strategic Arms

Reduction Treaty (START) I to a range of 1,700 to 2,200 weapons.

At the time of the Moscow treaty, Bush administration

officials publicly identified the new and more cooperative relationship

with the Russian Federation as enabling such dramatic

reductions. 69 The then-emerging improvement in political relations

with Russia on a broad scale permitted deep reductions in

the US strategic nuclear arsenal. This potential for deep reductions

was not the result of negotiations for that purpose but a basic

shift in political relations. US officials at the time also stated

explicitly that deeper reductions were possible in the future as

conditions permitted. 70

What might contribute to the opportunity for further prudent

reductions? In 2002, Bush administration officials included

the development of US advanced nonnuclear forces and defensive

capabilities as possibly doing so. 71

Developments in US nonnuclear offensive weapons and

damage-limitation capabilities could plausibly contribute to

prudent reductions by helping to mitigate the possible risks of

deep reductions and by providing nonnuclear offensive and defensive

capabilities to perform some duties reserved to nuclear

weapons in the past. 72 Significant damage-limitation capabilities,

for example, could help to reduce a risk particularly associated

with very low nuclear force numbers: they could help

to make US security less vulnerable to dangerous technical and

geopolitical surprises, including deception by countries that

had ostensibly agreed to deep reductions and thereby contributed

to the freedom felt by the United States to do so.


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