Nuclear modernization programs threaten to prolong the nuclear era

How best to approach nuclear modernization?: A US response

From Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

This article leads with the US contribution to global perspectives on ambitious nuclear modernization programs. Georgetown University professor Matthew Kroenig argues that: ”Failure to modernize would not contribute to disarmament – but more than that, it would be irresponsible. A crippled US nuclear force would embolden enemies, frighten allies, generate international instability, and undermine US national security. In other words, it would risk ruining the world that currently exists. Rather than preparing for an alternate reality, therefore, Washington needs to build the nuclear forces that it needs to deter threats to international peace and security in this reality. This means maintaining a robust nuclear posture and fully modernizing nuclear forces, as planned.”



Between 2014 and 2023, the United States expects to spend $355 billion to modernize its nuclear arsenal. In subsequent decades, even higher expenditures are envisioned. But Washington is far from alone in modernizing its nuclear weapons. According to researchers from the Federation of American Scientists, “all the nuclear-armed states have ambitious nuclear weapon modernization programs … that appear intended to prolong the nuclear era indefinitely.” Disarmament advocates believe such modernizations are fundamentally at odds with the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons—while weapon states argue that, as long as nuclear weapons exist, arsenals must be modernized in order to keep them safe, secure, and effective. Here, Eugene Miasnikov of Russia (2015), Matthew Kroenig of the United States, and Lu Yin of China (2015) debate how—in a world where complete disarmament is nearly every nation’s stated goal but disarmament seems by no means imminent—nuclear-armed countries should approach the maintenance and modernization of their arsenals.

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Matthew Kroenig
How to approach nuclear modernization?: A US response Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists May/June 2015 71: 16-18, first published on April 9, 2015 doi:10.1177/0096340215581356Matthew Kroenig






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