Stephen J. Cimbala
Despite nonhostile political relations between the United States and Russia since 1991, the stability of the balance between those two leading nuclear powers is still the subject of considerable political interest and bilateral arms control. In addition, the costs of national defense and military preparedness, including the costs of nuclear modernization and arms reductions, are matters of concern to both Russian and American national leaderships. Finally, both U.S. and Russian decisions about their nuclear-arms buildups or builddowns send signals to nonnuclear states with regard to the probable significance of nuclear weapons in the new world order.
This chapter considers various U.S. options for strategic nuclear forces consistent with the expected requirements of START III, already negotiated in principle between the U.S. and Russian national leaderships. First, we compare four possible models of START III compliant U.S. forces in order to assess their relative operational performances. Second, we consider other attributes of these forces related to the problem of crisis stability. Third, we discuss the problem of defenses against nuclear attack and potential significance for U.S.-Russian nuclear-arms reductions.
Contrary to some expectations, nuclear weapons and arms control issues have not vanished over the horizon in a post-Desert Storm euphoria. There are at least six reasons for this.