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Argument: US interests make the country unlikely to denuclearize

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Supporting evidence

  • Stephen M. Younger, Associate Laboratory Director for Nuclear Weapons Los Alamos National Laboratory. "Nuclear Weapons in the Twenty-First Century". June 27th, 2000 - "Scenario 4: Prospects for Wholly Nonnuclear Strategic Forces It is almost impossible to conceive of technological and political developments that would enable the United States to meet its defense needs in 2020 without nuclear weapons. There are several reasons for this. First, nuclear weapons continue to play a vital role in deterring other countries from launching significant military strikes against America, our allies, or our vital interests. The real threat of not just military defeat but national annihilation is a potent deterrent now and should be expected to remain so for at least the next few decades. Second, it does not appear possible with current or projected technology to assure ourselves that there are no—and never will be any— nuclear weapons in the hands of potential adversaries. Given the unique destructive power of nuclear weapons, an asymmetry of this kind should be unacceptable to American military planners. Third, the development of antiballistic missile defense is encouraging, but the assumption that a leak-proof shield can be fielded by 2020 is debatable. Fourth, some targets will not be able to be held at risk by any type of conventional weapon because of their extreme hardness. Fifth, the ability of an adversary to deliver a nuclear weapon by aircraft, cruise missile, naval vessel, or by clandestine insertion into this country are additional concerns beyond the long-range ballistic missile threat. Lacking the ability to deter such threats and to respond in kind would open up the country to blackmail.
It is critical in any discussion of strategic forces to consider the overall stability provided by technology and policy. Such calculations have become considerably more complex in the multipolar world that is expected to persist at least over the time scale addressed in this paper.
The future is unpredictable, but we can count on it to be dynamic. Strategic thinking must be flexible and must consider the evolution of several possible futures, each of which has branches that are contingent on the geopolitical situation and technological capabilities here and abroad. Countries will respond to technology and policy developments in the United States and elsewhere. We must be careful that any changes to our strategic position make the overall situation better and not worse.
Russia has already promised that it will use 'asymmetric means' to counter advanced U.S. technology. Official Chinese publications indicate that China will likely follow a similar strategy. The capabilities of their own research and development complex should not be underestimated. While Russia cannot yet match the United States in the most sophisticated technology, it has shown a remarkable ability to achieve military objectives through cleverness and sometimes through brute force. Finally, the development of advanced conventional strategic weapons could push the Russians to an even greater reliance on high-yield nuclear weapons. Rather than an evolution toward some fixed strategy, strategic thinking should be done along a flexible time line that recognizes changes in the world and in military technology. What may work at one time may not work at another time when the situation has substantially changed."
  • Admiral Rich Mies. The Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Command. in testimony to the U.S. Senate - "Deterrence of aggression is a cornerstone of our national security strategy, and strategic nuclear forces serve as the most visible and most important element of our commitment Š (further) deterrence of major military attack on the United States and its allies, particularly attacks involving weapons of mass destruction, remains our highest defense priority.'"[1]

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