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An Analysis of Reduced Collateral Damage Nuclear Weapons

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In the new security environment with a new U.S. defense strategy, nuclear weapons remain critical to U.S. national security as well as to international security. However, legacy nuclear systems are not optimally configured for the new and emerging contingencies of this environment. A common thread likely to run through the desirable characteristics of most future systems is reduced collateral damage (RCD). Improved accuracy enables lower yield weapons to accomplish the missions once allocated to higher yield legacy warheads, with correspondingly reduced collateral effects. Lower yield, earth-penetrating weapons and other new or modified RCD weapons can play a critical role, in conjunction with the other capabilities of the New Triad, in achieving U.S. defense objectives of deterrence, dissuasion and assurance. As the United States implements the Nuclear Posture Review, it is important to assess such capabilities in the context of U.S. defense strategy and to be in a position to develop and deploy them--if required--within the much smaller nuclear force towards which the United States is moving.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM

Publication date: 2003-10-01

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