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The Future of the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent

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The United States must maintain an effective nuclear deterrent because, without it, the U.S. could be destroyed as an industrial civilization, and our conventional forces could be defeated by a state with grossly inferior conventional capability but powerful weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Both Russia and China have the nuclear potential to destroy the U.S. (and our allies) and are modernizing their forces with the objective of targeting the U.S. missile defenses and conventional strike capabilities, while critically important elements of deterrence and national power simply cannot substitute for nuclear deterrence. In light of the emerging “strategic partnership” between Russia and China and their emphasis on nuclear weapons, it would be foolish indeed to size U.S. strategic nuclear forces as if the only threat we face is that of rogue states and discard the requirement that the U.S. nuclear deterrent be “second to none.”
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National Institute for Public Policy, Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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