• Towards A Balanced U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

      Kurzer, Paulette; Ryckman, Kirssa Cline; Miranda, Cristobal M.; Westerland, Chad (The University of Arizona., 2016)
      Nuclear weapons remain salient to international security and stability given their continued existence within the strategic context of interstate relations, as well as their continued proliferation to state actors and potentially to non-state actors. Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia have dramatically reduced their nuclear arsenals; however, the U.S and Russia today still have the large majority of the world's nuclear inventory, with thousands of nuclear weapons each and plans to maintain these large stockpiles. The central question of this study is-how does one reconcile the size and continued existence of the U.S. nuclear arsenal with U.S. nonproliferation policy and the U.S. commitment to pursue nuclear disarmament? This study's primary argument is that a nuclear-armed state can craft a weapons policy involving nuclear posture and force structure that balances the requirements of nuclear deterrence with nuclear nonproliferation objectives and eventual nuclear disarmament, and that the U.S. has imperfectly pursued such a balanced nuclear weapons policy since the end of the Cold War. This study's primary policy recommendations are that the U.S. nuclear arsenal can be reduced further and the U.S. can modify its nuclear posture to limit the role of nuclear weapons; such nuclear weapons policy changes that limit the mission and size of U.S. nuclear forces would demonstrate genuine commitment to nuclear nonproliferation and progress towards nuclear disarmament, while also maintaining a strategic deterrence capability for the foreseeable future. The pursuit of a balanced nuclear weapons policy will allow the U.S. to function as a genuine actor to positively influence the international nuclear environment towards a potentially nuclear-free world. Ultimately, global nuclear disarmament will likely require major developments within the international system, including the solving of the world's major security issues.