Deterrence and Nuclear Proliferation in the Twenty-First Century

By Stephen J. Cimbala | Go to book overview

3

Post-Cold War Nuclear Scenarios: Implications for a New Strategic Calculus

James Scouras

The context for strategic arms control has changed profoundly due to the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and continues to evolve in response to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and advances in ballistic missile defense technology. Although recognition of this new strategic environment has resulted in significant changes in strategic force structure, posture, and doctrine, and a START III treaty may be on the horizon, further change is likely to prove increasingly difficult and the long-range goals of strategic arms control remain contentious. The continuing uncertain prospects for entry into force of the START II Treaty, the U.S. Senate rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and U.S. attempts to gain Russian acquiescence on modification of the ABM Treaty are warnings that the tapestry of arms control agreements woven over some three decades may be unraveling. Under these circumstances, the need to reassess the long-term U.S. interests in strategic arms control is imperative.

Critical decisions loom on the deployment of national missile defenses and the framework, objectives, and negotiating strategy for a START III agreement, options that may well prove mutually exclusive. In the intermediate and longer term the United States faces such issues as deterring, preempting, and responding to chemical and biological as well as nuclear attacks by rogue nations and substate actors; maintaining a reliable nuclear arsenal in the absence of nuclear weapon testing; possible multilateralization of strategic arms control; the relationships among nuclear warfare and other forms of strategic war-

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