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Title: Reductions without Regret: Avoiding Wrong Turns, Roach Motels, and Box Canyons

This is the third of three papers (in addition to an introductory summary) aimed at providing a framework for evaluating future reductions or modifications of the U.S. nuclear force, first by considering previous instances in which nuclear-force capabilities were eliminated; second by looking forward into at least the foreseeable future at the features of global and regional deterrence (recognizing that new weapon systems currently projected will have expected lifetimes stretching beyond our ability to predict the future); and third by providing examples of past or possible undesirable outcomes in the shaping of the future nuclear force, as well as some closing thoughts for the future. In this paper, we provide one example each of our judgments on what constitutes a box canyon, a roach motel, and a wrong turn: Wrong Turn: The Reliable Replacement Warhead: Roach Motel: SRAM T vs the B61: and A Possible Box Canyon: A Low-Yield Version of the W76 SLBM Warhead. Recognizing that new nuclear missions or weapons are not demanded by current circumstances ₋ a development path that yields future capabilities similar to those of today, which are adequate if not always ideal, and a broader national-security strategy that supports nonproliferation and arms control bymore » reducing the role for, and numbers, of nuclear weapons ₋ we briefly consider alternate, less desirable futures, and their possible effect on the complex problem of regional deterrence. In this regard, we discuss the issues posed by, and possible responses to, three example regional deterrence challenges: in-country defensive use of nuclear weapons by an adversary; reassurance of U.S. allies with limited strategic depth threatened by an emergent nuclear power; and extraterritorial, non-strategic offensive use of nuclear weapons by an adversary in support of limited military objectives against a U.S. ally.« less
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  1. Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, SC (United States). Savannah River National Lab. (SRNL)
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, SC (United States). Savannah River National Lab. (SRNL)
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Country of Publication:
United States