Controlling Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons: Obstacles and Opportunities

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Controlling Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons: Obstacles and Opportunities edited by Jeffrey A. Larsen and Kurt J. Klingenberger. USAF Institute for National Security Studies (http://www., US Air Force Academy, 2354 Fairchild Drive, Suite 5L27, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80840, 2001, 356 pages.

In November 2000, the National Security Policy Division of Headquarters US Air Force sponsored a conference in Warrenton, Virginia, to consider issues concerning nonstrategic nuclear weapons (NSNW), also known as theater or tactical nuclear weapons. The conference drew experts from the military, academia, and think tanks such as RAND. Controlling Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons distills the fruits of their deliberations into 14 essays that address problems, objectives, and solutions related to NSNWs.

For example, Lewis Dunn focuses on how the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START) have not kept pace with Russia's financial ability to destroy over 10,000 NSNW warheads. No longer equal to the United States in superpower status, Russia is beginning to look into how NSNWs can address deficiencies in its conventional forces, which are eroding from a lack of financial support. Furthermore, the US antiballistic-missile program tends to make Moscow less inclined to destroy NSNW stockpiles.

Andrea Gabbitas points out the crucial problem of NSNWs that are not equipped with permissive action links-locks that safeguard these weapons from being deployed by unauthorized persons. The absence of these links makes it easier for rogue states that are hungry to join the nuclear cartel to detonate or reverse-engineer these weapons. Gabbitas also highlights the difficulty of defining NSNWs. Mounting these tactical weapons on submarines or longrange bombers gives them strategic offensive capability. Simply defining NSNWs as nuclear weapons capable of striking the United States from Russia is too limiting; Turkey and Israel, for instance, argue that Syrian and Iraqi Scuds fitted with nuclear warheads are strategic weapons. Furthermore, Russia maintains that tactical warheads in Europe are strategic weapons capable of striking deep inside its territory. …