Beyond the Nuclear Shadow: A Phased Approach for Improving Nuclear Safety and U.S.-Russian Relations

By David E. Mosher; Lowell H. Schwartz et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING NUCLEAR SAFETY
OPTIONS

What are the appropriate criteria for judging nuclear safety options? Past studies, both inside the Department of Defense and at the nuclear laboratories, have used a fairly narrow set of criteria, focusing on maintaining the current equilibrium between Russian and U.S. nuclear forces.1 In their view, a nuclear safety option should be constructed to ensure that neither country gains an advantage over the other once the option is implemented. They also place heavy emphasis on ensuring verification of the proposed measure. These criteria are certainly essential to any evaluation of options for improving nuclear safety, but they are not the only fitting criteria. By focusing narrowly, these studies rejected options even though they may have had merit for reducing the risk of accidental or unauthorized nuclear use.

Our study took a different approach and used a broader set of criteria for evaluating nuclear safety options. We adopted criteria used in previous studies, but we also used criteria that encompass broader issues, such as an option's effect on U.S.-Russian relations, U.S. nonproliferation goals, and counterterrorism goals. In coming to an overall assessment of each option, we also used the rule that no single criterion can lead to an option's disqualification. For instance, a

____________________
1
See, for example, Thomas H. Karas, De-alerting and De-activating Strategic Nuclear Weapons (Albuquerque, NM: Sandia National Laboratories), SAND2001-0835, April 2001; and Kathleen C. Bailey and Franklin D. Barish, “De-alerting of U.S. Nuclear Forces: A Critical Appraisal,” Comparative Strategy, Vol. 18, January-March 1999, pp. 1–12.

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