The US government is planning to spend an estimated US$1 trillion over 30 years to modernise or replace its triad of air-, land- and sea-based nuclear weapons. These plans have huge implications for the security of the United States and its allies, its public finances and the salience of nuclear weapons in global politics. This Adelphi book argues that the US need not replicate its Cold War triad to achieve credible and reliable deterrence.
It proposes viable alternatives that would allow the US to maintain deterrence at a lower cost, thereby freeing up funds to ease pressing shortfalls in spending on conventional procurement and nuclear security. These alternative structures – which propose a reduction in the size and shape of the arsenal – have distinct advantages over the existing plan in maintaining strategic stability vis-à-vis Russia and China; upholding arms-control treaties; boosting the security of US nuclear forces; and supporting the global non-proliferation regime. They would also endow the US with a nuclear force better suited to the strategic environment of the twenty-first century, and mark an advance on the existing triad in supporting conventional military operations.
‘Doyle shines a spotlight on a crucial choice facing the United States that has so far received far too little debate: whether to rebuild, at enormous cost, a nuclear arsenal that would perpetuate Cold War thinking until nearly the end of the century; or whether to reduce and restructure nuclear forces to make clear that their only purpose is deterrence. Required reading for anyone interested in this important issue.’
Steve Fetter, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, University of Maryland
‘How many nuclear weapons does the United States really need? James Doyle, a former Los Alamos nuclear-weapons lab expert, rightly challenges the nuclear-weapons bureaucracy to think outside the box regarding nuclear-weapons modernisation. Doyle cogently argues that less is more, especially in an age of uncertain relations with Russia. From competing defence-budget priorities to strategic stability, arms control and non-proliferation, Doyle articulates the many reasons why the current modernisation plan is Cold War overkill.'
Sharon Squassoni, Senior Fellow and Director, Proliferation Prevention Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
‘It can be easy to forget that we still live in the Nuclear Age. Doyle’s wonderfully clear consideration examines the policy choices to be made, and the costs and benefits associated with each option. This sober, professionally informed and wise study provides readers with the facts and tools to judge for themselves. Doyle’s discussion of the trade-offs between spending on nuclear rather than conventional weapons is particularly illuminating, as are his thoughts on the importance of a flexible force structure that can meet both new threats and opportunities for reducing nuclear dangers.'
Jim Walsh, Senior Research Associate, MIT Security Studies Program