Showing posts with label WMD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WMD. Show all posts

26 June 2020

How the U.S. Military Plans to Destroy Hypersonic Missiles in a War

by Kris Osborn

The Pentagon is looking to Space War as an emerging method to counter seemingly unstoppable hypersonic weapons attacks, with early prototyping of satellite sensors and other tracking technology to more quickly find and “take out” weapons traveling more than five times the speed of sound. 

“We have to work on sensor architecture, because they do maneuver and they are global, you have to be able to track them worldwide and globally. It does drive you towards a space architecture, which is where we’re going,” Navy Vice Admiral Jon Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said in a Pentagon report.

The Missile Defense Agency and the Space Development Agency, Hill said, have already built a satellite prototype and plans to put up more new satellites to better track hypersonic attacks over the next few years.

“As ballistic missiles increase in their complexity ... you’re going to be able to look down from cold space onto that warm earth and be able to see those,” he said. “As hypersonics come up and look ballistic initially, then turn into something else, you have to be able to track that and maintain track. In order for us to transition from indications and warning into a fire control solution, we have to have a firm track and you really can’t handle the global maneuver problem without space.”

23 June 2020

Ethical Imperatives for Lethal Autonomous Weapons

Dillon Patterson 

Introduction

In September 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a group of students regarding the role of advanced technology in the future of warfare. During his address, Putin stated, “when one party’s drones are destroyed by drones of another, it will have no other choice but to surrender.”1 Putin’s remarks highlight a change in the character of war. Robots, often enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), represent an increased portion of military forces. In a November 2019 report to the United States Congress, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) identified Russia and China as utilizing various forms AI to advance their national agendas.2 AI-enabled autonomous systems are tools that nations will not overlook in the development of national security plans.

The fields of automation and artificial intelligence are broad, having applications in diplomatic, informational, military, and economic activities. Within this realm, lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) are a new enabler for achieving political ends through the application of the military instrument of power. As the world is past the point of considering whether robots should be used in war, the goal of the discussion herein is to examine how autonomous systems can be used ethically. This article seeks explicitly to demonstrate that fielding and employment of lethal autonomous weapons systems can be done effectively and ethically by maximizing the advantages and minimizing the shortfalls of both technology and the human mind.

21 June 2020

Thanks To Germany, Israel Is A True Nuclear Weapons State

by Sebastien Roblin

Here's What You Need To Remember: Farley is probably correct in arguing that the Israel’s nuclear-tipped SLCMs are less practical than Tel Aviv’s other nuclear-delivery platforms. For that matter, Israel doesn’t currently face any adversaries with nuclear capabilities to deter against. However, like the idea of second-strike capability in general, the threat of sea-launched nukes may be more intended political weapon than one strictly intended for its military effectiveness.

Israel has never officially admitted to possessing nuclear weapons.

Unofficially, Tel Aviv wants everyone to know it has them, and doesn’t hesitate to make thinly-veiled references to its willingness to use them if confronted by an existential threat. Estimates on the size of Tel Aviv’s nuclear stockpile range from 80 to 300 nuclear weapons, the latter number exceeding China’s arsenal.

Originally, Israel’s nuclear forces relied on air-dropped nuclear bombs and Jericho ballistic missiles. For example, when Egyptian and Syrian armies attacked Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, a squadron of eight Israeli F-4 Phantom jets loaded with nuclear bombs was placed on alert by Prime Minister Golda Meir, ready to unleash nuclear bombs on Cairo and Damascus should the Arab armies break through.

Though Israel is the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, Tel Aviv is preoccupied by the fear that an adversary might one day attempt a first strike to destroy its nuclear missiles and strike planes on the ground before they can retaliate. Currently, the only hostile states likely to acquire such a capability are Iran or Syria.

12 June 2020

Space Development Agency to deploy hypersonic missile defense satellites by 2022

by Sandra Erwin 
Source Link

Hypersonic missiles are a new class of military threat capable of maneuvering and flying faster than 5,000 kilometers per hour. Credit: RAND Corp.

A June 5 solicitation for a “tracking phenomenology experiment” is a step in the development of a sensor network in space to track hypersonic missiles.

WASHINGTON — The Space Development Agency is soliciting bids to integrate a missile-warning sensor with a satellite bus and launch it to low Earth orbit by late 2021.

The June 5 solicitation is for a “tracking phenomenology experiment” to develop sensor algorithms for a future missile detection network in space. Proposals are due July 6.

The experiment is an initial step in the SDA’s plan to deploy a large constellation of low orbiting satellites in 2022 to detect and track maneuvering hypersonic missiles that the Pentagon predicts China and Russia will field in the near future.

The tracking experiment is central to the development of sensors that can accurately identify missile signals in background noise and clutter, according to SDA. “It will characterize scene backgrounds for a range of satellite viewing conditions to optimize algorithms, concepts of operations and wavebands for advanced missile detection and tracking,” said the June 5 request for proposals.

11 June 2020

Japan Suspects HGV Attack Missile Data Leak in Part of Cyberattack That Hit Mitsubishi Electric Corp

By BALAJI N

Recently, the Mitsubishi Electric Corp has revealed a major security breach; and in a brief statement released on its website stated that “sensitive information on the development of attack missiles could have been stolen part of a cyberattack on the servers of the Japanese electronic manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric last year.”

The attack appeared to have occurred on June 28, 2019, and was investigated months later. After two local newspapers published the stories about the attack, now finally the company has decided to converse on the matter.

The company, Mitsubishi Electric Corp, has argued that it is industrial surveillance. Still, sources say that the hackers have targeted the defense industry, mainly to steal information on a prototype of a cutting-edge high-speed gliding missile.

A government source has explained that “Although the data was not classified as highly confidential,, the fact is that, it is still sensitive information related to the future of Japan’s defense capabilities.”

Confronted with the development of hypersonic missiles (HGV) in China, Russia, and the United States, the Japanese Ministry of Defense also launched its own research on this type of missile with a varied trajectory in 2018, sending the required specifications to the candidate companies to develop the prototype, including the Mitsubishi Electric Corp as well.

25 May 2020

DOD’s Top Scientist Shoots Down Airborne Lasers for Missile Defense

BY PATRICK TUCKER
Source Link

Could lasers aboard aircraft like the F-35 shoot down enemy missiles as they launch? The Pentagon has batted around the idea for decades. But on Wednesday, its top scientists said he doesn’t think it’s practical, and said the Defense Department will put its research resources elsewhere.

“I want to put an end to that discussion. We’re not investing in airborne platforms for shooting down adversary missiles” with directed energy, said Mike Griffin, defense undersecretary for research and engineering. 

The idea of mounting a laser or other directed-energy weapon on a fighter jet or drone for missile defense has surfaced and disappeared various times. Early last year, it resurfaced in the 2019 Missile Defense Review, the bible for U.S. missile defense. “Developing scalable, efficient, and compact high energy laser technology, and integrating it onto an airborne platform holds the potential to provide a future cost-effective capability to destroy boosting missiles in the early part of the trajectory,” reads the Review, the bible for U.S. missile defense. “Doing so would leverage technological advances made earlier in DoD’s Airborne Laser Program, including for example advances in beam propagation and beam control. MDA is developing a Low-Power Laser Demonstrator to evaluate the technologies necessary for mounting a laser on an unmanned airborne platform to track and destroy missiles in their boost-phase.”

24 May 2020

Get Ready For a New Arms Race: Why Nuclear Strategic Stability Won’t Work With China

by Bradley A. Thayer

China’s expansion of nuclear weapons has not received the attention it deserves due to its threat to U.S. interests and for strategic stability. China’s actions undermine the ability of the United States to deter attacks against the United States, to extend deterrence to its allies, and to protect its interests. Strategic stability results when both or all sides in a deterrence relationship have little incentive to race for superiority. During the dénouement of the Cold War, strategic stability obtained for the United States and Russia. However, strategic stability will not obtain with respect to China for three reasons.

First, while the common estimate of China’s nuclear weapons is approximately three hundred, due to China’s lack of transparency, it is possible that China has significantly more than this estimate. This month, there have been calls within China for expanding its nuclear arsenal to one thousand strategic warheads, to say nothing of nuclear weapons on intermediate-range or other forces. While the United States has taken a “strategic holiday,” the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has used the opportunity to expand their arsenals, as well as cyber and conventional capabilities. When one reflects upon the considerable effort to create strategic systems, as well as cyber and conventional capabilities, inescapable conclusions are, first, that the causes of their expansion is rooted in their own grand strategic objectives of achieving hegemony and, second, the decision to expand their forces was sown long ago. China has used our strategic passivity to expand.  What Reagan’s Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger said in the Soviet context remains true today: "When we build, they build, when we stop, they build.” 

21 May 2020

New Warfare Domains and the Deterrence Theory Crisis

RIZWANA ABBASI

Currently, we witness a volatile, polarized and destabilizing international security environment that has exposed us to the grey zones of war and peace. Security challenges arising from both hybrid threats and hybrid warfare (both multiple and synchronized threats that aim to target states’ vulnerabilities at different levels covering domains other than military) seem to have held front seat on the global security agenda thereby altering the relevance of nuclear deterrence. Deterrence is generally understood as an ability to dissuade a state from embarking upon a course of action prejudicial to one’s vital security interests, based on demonstrative capability. The nuclear deterrence theory, as propounded by Brodie (Brodie 1946, p. 76), which is grounded in political realism, enriches our thought process to comprehend the potential character of nuclear weapons. The focus of nuclear deterrence was on averting wars through the psychological manipulation of an adversary’s mind. Thus, it is argued that renewed warfare domains and non-military threats seems to have marginalized the relevance of deterrence theory. Therefore, new mechanisms are required to defend societies and build a correlation between deterrence and evolving wide-raging threats that are non-military in nature. It is further argued that a long-term holistic approach to deterrence as an instrument is needed that focuses on both current military and renewed non-military threats which cover political, economic, social and digital landscape.

Evolving Nature of Nuclear Deterrence

The end of World War II, for instance, witnessed the innovation of nuclear weapons along with their delivery means, which redefined the character of warfare. The introduction of nuclear weapons by the US, and later their use generated extensive debates in political and academic circles on the concept of deterrence. Although the world has never witnessed a two-sided nuclear war, nuclear competition between the US and the Soviet Union (now Russia) during the Cold War, taught us difficult lessons. In this context, US–based think tanks such as RAND and leading Western scholars such as Brodie (1946), Shelling (1966, p.22) and Wohlstetter (1959, pp. 211-234) made substantial contributions to the understanding of the character and role of nuclear weapons.

20 May 2020

Yes, France Did 'Sink' a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier

by Caleb Larson

The French Rubis-class is France’s first-generation nuclear attack submarine class. Though old, they’re still capable. The first of the class, the Rubis, originally launched in 1979. Though the class is nuclear-powered, they are smaller than typical attack submarines in the American or British navies, and displace only about 2,500 tons.

Since the Rubis-class is nuclear powered, they benefit from having virtually unlimited range. The only limits to operational range are crew needs, such as fresh water and food, and ammunition. Interestingly, the Rubis-class are only able to carry a modest ammunition load of fourteen anti-surface torpedoes and missiles that can be mixed and matched.

In addition to standard 21-inch torpedoes, the Rubis-class can also fire Exocet SM39 missiles. The Exocet SM39 is a submarine-launched variant of France’s standard anti-ship missile, and entered service in 1984, just as the Rubis-class was becoming active. The SM39 is a short-range missile with a range of 50 kilometers or just over 30 miles. These anti-surface missiles are fired not through vertical launch tubes, which the Rubis-class lacks, but instead via the torpedo tubes inside a watertight container. Once the container makes contact with the surface, the SM39 is ejected into the air and flies towards a predetermined target. En route, the SM39 maintains a low flight profile to avoid detection by enemy radar. It has a 165 kilo, or about 360 pound high-explosive warhead.

19 May 2020

The Geostrategic Importance of Outer Space Resources

by Alex Gilbert Morgan Bazilian

The world may be heading towards the greatest mining rush in history—in outer space. Falling costs and greater access to space launch services, coupled with new technologies, are leading to the establishment of numerous companies in this nascent industry. 

A new Executive Order (EO) by the Trump Administration issued in early April promises to accelerate that rush. The EO declares that outer space is not the “global commons,” asserts American rights to use space resources, and attempts to discourage foreign countries from embracing the Moon Agreement. It has sparked immediate concerns that the United States is trying to privatize or assert sovereignty over outer space to the detriment of other nations, with Russia notably comparing its claims to colonialism. It also has echoes of Trump administration rhetoric in other sectors, such as the claim of “energy dominance”. 

At the center of interest in space resources is the ability to extract and process materials at a mining site. In the case of outer space activities, this means that resources can be prospected, mined, and processed to support missions.

17 May 2020

Blundering Toward Nuclear Chaos


The nuclear dangers facing the United States, its allies, and the world are increasing.

Three years after entering office, the Trump administration lacks a coherent set of goals, a strategy to achieve them, or the personnel or effective policy process to address the most complex set of nuclear risks in U.S. history. Put simply, the current U.S. administration is blundering toward nuclear chaos with potentially disastrous consequences.

In May 2020, the American Nuclear Policy Initiative (ANPI), a task force of former government and non-governmental experts, released an objective analysis of U.S. nuclear policy under Donald Trump. “Blundering Toward Nuclear Chaos: The Trump Administration after Three Years” finds that all of the nuclear challenges facing the United States – some inherited by the president and others of his own creation – have worsened over the last three years, putting national and global security at greater risk of nuclear use.

Featuring seven essays from ANPI members, the report details the current administration’s efforts on the issues of nuclear proliferation, strategic stability, nuclear modernization, Iran, and North Korea. The papers are by some of the most experienced and insightful U.S. analysts of nuclear issues. 

15 May 2020

Despite U.S. Sanctions, Iran Expands Its Nuclear Stockpile

BY COLUM LYNCH

Two years after President Donald Trump announced the U.S withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran has resumed its enrichment of uranium, restarted research and development on advanced centrifuges, and expanded its stockpile of nuclear fuel, cutting in half the time it would need to produce enough weapons-grade fuel to build a nuclear bomb.

“Iran is manifestly closer to being able to produce a nuclear weapon than they were two years ago,” said Richard Nephew, who participated in negotiations on the landmark nuclear deal in 2015.

While there is no evidence Tehran is preparing a dash for a nuclear weapon, the Iranian advances raise questions about the success of the White House’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign, which is aimed at forcing Iran through the imposition of ever more stringent sanctions to accept greater constraints on its political and military support for regional militias and the development of its ballistic missile program.

The effort—which has severely damaged Iran’s economy—has yet to temper Iran’s nuclear ambitions, instead prompting Tehran to resume nuclear activities prohibited by the nuclear pact, which is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. It has also eroded Washington’s credibility even among many of its traditional allies and placed increasing strains on America’s diplomatic partnerships.

14 May 2020

Thanks To The War On Terror, Micro Missiles Are Here To Stay

by Charlie Gao
As Western militaries shift back into a conventional focus after spending more than a decade fighting insurgencies, they are bringing along some tech developed for counterinsurgency that has applications in a peer or near-peer conflict. One important innovation that is looking to change how air-to-ground support can occur is the development of a new class of “micro precision munitions”: guided rockets, bombs, and missiles that weigh around 20 kg or less. The GBU-44/B Viper Strike was one of the first of this new class of weapon. But does it have a future?

At the beginning of the Global War on Terror, the smallest precision munition available to aerial platforms was the AGM-114 Hellfire. As a result, the MQ-1 Predator with Hellfires became an ubiquitous light close air support (CAS) platform. But in this role the limitations of the Hellfire became clear. While it was light, the Hellfire was overkill for many point targets it was fired on. The High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead also was found to have a lackluster anti-personnel effect due to being optimized for taking out Soviet tanks, rather than infantry formations. On the other hand, the Hellfire’s warhead was too powerful for other precision targets, especially in urban environments.

12 May 2020

Critiquing the State Department’s Nuclear Posture Clarification

GEORGE PERKOVICH

The U.S. State Department’s Office of the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security on April 24, 2020, published online a paper entitled “Strengthening Deterrence and Reducing Nuclear Risks: The Supplemental Low-Yield U.S. Submarine-Launched Warhead.” Christopher Ford, the de facto undersecretary, authored the introduction, while the section on “The W76-2 Low-Yield Option” was attributed to the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance.

Briefly, the paper describes why and how the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), issued under U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, clarified “‘the extreme circumstances’ under which the United States does not a priori rule out the possibility of using nuclear weapons.” The paper adds further that “deterring limited nuclear attacks on allies and deployed U.S. forces” is the most urgent nuclear deterrence challenge today. To this end, the United States should continue to deploy the W76-2 low-yield nuclear warhead on submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). In explaining this controversial position, the paper respectfully addresses the central arguments that have been made against this weapon.

Like previous writings by Ford, this one will engender intense debate among nuclear policy aficionados in the United States and around the world. Carnegie Vice President for Studies and Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Chair George Perkovich, as before, welcomes the insights that the State Department publication provides into U.S. policy and offers the following critique of the paper in hopes of inviting others to join this discussion.
CLARIFYING THE 2018 NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW, SORT OF

2 May 2020

Would China Use Nuclear Weapons First in a War With the United States?

By Gregory Kulacki



Admiral Charles A. Richard, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, recently told the Senate Armed Service Committee he “could drive a truck” through the holes in China’s no first use policy. But when Senator John Hawley (R-MO) asked him why he said that, Commander Richard backtracked, described China’s policy as “very opaque” and said his assessment was based on “very little” information.

That’s surprising. China has been exceptionally clear about its intentions on the possible first use of nuclear weapons. On the day of its first nuclear test on October 16, 1964, China declared it “will never at any time or under any circumstances be the first to use nuclear weapons.” That unambiguous statement has been a cornerstone of Chinese nuclear weapons policy for 56 years and has been repeated frequently in authoritative Chinese publications for domestic and international audiences, including a highly classified training manual for the operators of China’s nuclear forces.

Richard should know about those publications, particularly the training manual. A U.S. Department of Defense translation has been circulating within the U.S. nuclear weapons policy community for more than a decade. The commander’s comments to the committee indicate a familiarity with the most controversial section of the manual, which, in the eyes of some U.S. analysts, indicates there may be some circumstances where China would use nuclear weapons first in a war with the United States.

Multiple Challenges Hinder Russian Efforts to Modernize Its Satellite Navigation System

By: Pavel Luzin

Russia’s constellation of GLONASS navigation satellites are part of a dual-use system—available to both civilian users and the military. Moscow began deploying it during the 1980s–1990s, but its initial capabilities were almost fully lost by the year 2000, due to technical and economic shortcomings. However, since 2002 it has become one of the highest priorities for Russia’s space activities and was deployed a second time.

The system’s main purpose is military in nature, which is why the Russian Armed Forces were originally supposed to take full ownership of GLONASS after the deployment of the entire satellite constellation. But Russia’s military refused to take responsibility for it in December 2012 (RBC, December 21, 2012), consequently leaving, Roscosmos, the state-owned corporation and successor of the Federal Space Agency, in control of both GLONASS’s operation and modernization. The present year notably marks the conclusion of a nine-year, multi-billion-ruble, federal program on the “Maintenance, Development and Operation of the GLONASS System in 2012–2020,” and the results of the effort have been far from an unqualified success. The main challenge for Russia remains the need to rely on navigation satellites operating beyond their warranted lifetime; but due to manufacturing delays, Roscosmos looks unable to replace them anytime soon.

30 April 2020

Where Trump Went Wrong on North Korea Nuclear Diplomacy


After more than two years at the forefront of the international agenda, North Korea denuclearization efforts have faded from view, leaving little progress to show for it. Critics say the Trump administration took a flawed approach to the negotiations—and the U.S. trade war with China didn’t help. Meanwhile, North Koreans continue to suffer.

Ending North Korea’s nuclearization efforts moved to the forefront of the international agenda soon after U.S. President Donald Trump took office in 2017, and stayed there for more than two years. But despite a period of improved relations between North and South Korea and two unprecedented face-to-face meetings between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, no clear progress was made toward denuclearizing North Korea.

Trump framed the meetings and his personal relationship with Kim as a promising start to a potential breakthrough, and more recently claimed that he single-handedly avoided war with North Korea. But critics point to the lack of headway in the failed talks, which they blame on the Trump administration’s flawed approach to the negotiations. For his part, Kim has refused to even begin drawing down the program that is essentially his regime’s only bargaining chip unless the international community drops its sanctions. Hard-liners in Washington, on the other hand, would like to see meaningful steps toward denuclearization before they lift any restrictions.

21 April 2020

Preparing for a Dark Future: Biological Warfare in the 21st Century

By Thomas G. Mahnken

News of the spread of COVID-19 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and the subsequent relief of its Commanding Officer has highlighted the tension that exists between maintaining military readiness and the need to safeguard the health of members of the armed forces in the face of a pandemic.

The disease has been a feature of war for the vast majority of human history – from the plague that ravaged Athens early in the Peloponnesian War, killing the Athenian strategos Pericles; to the diseases that European settlers brought with them to the New World, devastating local populations; to the host of tropical diseases that caused appalling casualties in the China-Burma-India and Southwest Pacific theaters in World War II. The fact that we were surprised by the emergence, growth, and spread of COVID-19 reflects the false conceit of 21st century life that we have “conquered” disease.

In fact, pandemics are but one class of low-probability but high-impact contingencies that we could face in the coming years, including an earthquake or other natural disaster in a major urban area, regime change in an important state, and the collapse of financial markets leading to a global depression. When I served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning between 2006 and 2009, we explored a series of such “shocks” as well as the role the Defense Department could play in responding to them as a way of helping the Department’s leaders address such contingencies. During my time in the Pentagon, we also held a series of wargames with members of Congress and their staff, governors of several states and their cabinets, and the government of Mexico, to explore in depth the consequences of a pandemic. Much of what we found then resonates with what we are experiencing now. On the one hand, the measures that individuals need to take to protect themselves against a virus such as COVID-19 are relatively straightforward. On the other hand, group dynamics, bureaucratic behavior, public policy, and economic forces make it difficult to implement measures that make sense on an individual level across a society, let along across countries. It was, and is, also clear that the Defense Department possesses medical, logistical, and command and control assets that are helpful in dealing with a disaster such as a pandemic. Even if not a surprise, the fact that pandemics of this scale are rare events has hindered preparation and response.

19 April 2020

Preparing for a Dark Future: Biological Warfare in the 21st Century

By Thomas G. Mahnken

News of the spread of COVID-19 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and the subsequent relief of its Commanding Officer has highlighted the tension that exists between maintaining military readiness and the need to safeguard the health of members of the armed forces in the face of a pandemic.

The disease has been a feature of war for the vast majority of human history – from the plague that ravaged Athens early in the Peloponnesian War, killing the Athenian strategos Pericles; to the diseases that European settlers brought with them to the New World, devastating local populations; to the host of tropical diseases that caused appalling casualties in the China-Burma-India and Southwest Pacific theaters in World War II. The fact that we were surprised by the emergence, growth, and spread of COVID-19 reflects the false conceit of 21st century life that we have “conquered” disease.

In fact, pandemics are but one class of low-probability but high-impact contingencies that we could face in the coming years, including an earthquake or other natural disaster in a major urban area, regime change in an important state, and the collapse of financial markets leading to a global depression. When I served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning between 2006 and 2009, we explored a series of such “shocks” as well as the role the Defense Department could play in responding to them as a way of helping the Department’s leaders address such contingencies. During my time in the Pentagon, we also held a series of wargames with members of Congress and their staff, governors of several states and their cabinets, and the government of Mexico, to explore in depth the consequences of a pandemic. Much of what we found then resonates with what we are experiencing now. On the one hand, the measures that individuals need to take to protect themselves against a virus such as COVID-19 are relatively straightforward. On the other hand, group dynamics, bureaucratic behavior, public policy, and economic forces make it difficult to implement measures that make sense on an individual level across a society, let along across countries. It was, and is, also clear that the Defense Department possesses medical, logistical, and command and control assets that are helpful in dealing with a disaster such as a pandemic. Even if not a surprise, the fact that pandemics of this scale are rare events has hindered preparation and response.

18 April 2020

Toward Accountable Nuclear Deterrents: How Much is Too Much?

GEORGE PERKOVICH
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

For decades, policy debates in nuclear-armed states and alliances have centered on the question, “How much is enough?” What size and type of arsenal, and what doctrine, are enough to credibly deter given adversaries? This paper argues that the more urgent question today is, “How much is too much?” What size and type of arsenal, and what doctrine, are too likely to produce humanitarian and environmental catastrophe that would be strategically and legally indefensible?

Two international initiatives could help answer this question. One would involve nuclear-armed states, perhaps with others, commissioning suitable scientific experts to conduct new studies on the probable climatic and environmental consequences of nuclear war. Such studies would benefit from recent advances in modeling, data, and computing power. They should explore what changes in numbers, yields, and targets of nuclear weapons would significantly reduce the probability of nuclear winter. If some nuclear arsenals and operational plans are especially likely to threaten the global environment and food supply, nuclear-armed states as well as non-nuclear-weapon states would benefit from actions to physically reduce such risks. The paper suggests possible modalities for international debate on these issues.