The US nuclear weapon infrastructure and a stable global nuclear weapon regime

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US nuclear weapons capabilities -- extant force structure and nuclear weapons infrastructure as well as declared policy -- influence other nations' nuclear weapons postures, at least to some extent. This influence can be desirable or undesirable, and is, of course, a mixture of both. How strong the influence is, and its nature, are complicated, controversial, and -- in our view -- not well understood but often overstated. Divergent views about this influence and how it might shape the future global nuclear weapons regime seem to us to be the most serious impediment to reaching a national consensus on US weapons ... continued below

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Immele, John D & Wagner, Richard L January 1, 2009.

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US nuclear weapons capabilities -- extant force structure and nuclear weapons infrastructure as well as declared policy -- influence other nations' nuclear weapons postures, at least to some extent. This influence can be desirable or undesirable, and is, of course, a mixture of both. How strong the influence is, and its nature, are complicated, controversial, and -- in our view -- not well understood but often overstated. Divergent views about this influence and how it might shape the future global nuclear weapons regime seem to us to be the most serious impediment to reaching a national consensus on US weapons policy, force structure and supporting infrastructure. We believe that a paradigm shift to capability-based deterrence and dissuasion is not only consistent with the realities of the world and how it has changed, but also a desirable way for nuclear weapon postures and infrastructures to evolve. The US and other nuclear states could not get to zero nor even reduce nuclear arms and the nuclear profile much further without learning to manage latent capability. This paper has defined three principles for designing NW infrastructure both at the 'next plateau' and 'near zero.' The US can be a leader in reducing weapons and infrastructure and in creating an international regime in which capability gradually substitutes for weapons in being and is transparent. The current 'strategy' of not having policy or a Congressionally-approved plan for transforming the weapons complex is not leadership. If we can conform the US infrastructure to the next plateau and architect it in such a way that it is aligned with further arms reductions, it will have these benefits: The extant stockpile can be reduced in size, while the smaller stockpile still deters attack on the US and Allies. The capabilities of the infrastructure will dissuade emergence of new challenges/threats; if they emerge, nevertheless, the US will be able to deal with them in time. We will begin to transform the way other major powers view their nuclear capability. Finally, and though of less cosmic importance, it will save money in the long run.

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  • Strategic Weapons in the 21st Century ; January 27, 2009 ; Washington, DC

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  • Report No.: LA-UR-09-00339
  • Report No.: LA-UR-09-339
  • Grant Number: AC52-06NA25396
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 956531
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc934887

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  • January 1, 2009

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 12, 2016, 1:45 p.m.

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Immele, John D & Wagner, Richard L. The US nuclear weapon infrastructure and a stable global nuclear weapon regime, article, January 1, 2009; [New Mexico]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc934887/: accessed October 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.