Page 1

Executive Summary

The remarkable political changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe call for a fundamental revision of United States nuclear policy, which for the past 45 years has been principally focused on the containment of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union retains formidable conventional forces, but the Soviet military threat has receded, and the danger of a surprise Soviet conventional attack in Europe has virtually disappeared, given the demise of the Warsaw Pact, the unification of Germany, the ongoing withdrawal of Soviet forces from Central and Eastern Europe, and Soviet preoccupation with internal affairs. Moreover, while the Soviet Union still has an immense nuclear arsenal that could devastate the United States, the likelihood of such an attack, always remote, seems to have diminished even further.

Despite major uncertainties about the outcome of current internal Soviet developments, the reduction of the Soviet military threat to the United States and its allies is likely to continue in the near future. Repression, conflict, or disintegration within the Soviet Union would present immensely difficult political problems for U.S.-Soviet relations. Such developments alone, however, would not restore the NATO-Warsaw Pact confrontation that drove postwar nuclear planning on both sides, justifying immense arsenals and nuclear forces poised for immediate response. The disappearance of that confrontation and the unification of Germany have transformed the security landscape almost irreversibly. And even if the Soviet Union reverts to a cen



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 1
Page 1 Executive Summary The remarkable political changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe call for a fundamental revision of United States nuclear policy, which for the past 45 years has been principally focused on the containment of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union retains formidable conventional forces, but the Soviet military threat has receded, and the danger of a surprise Soviet conventional attack in Europe has virtually disappeared, given the demise of the Warsaw Pact, the unification of Germany, the ongoing withdrawal of Soviet forces from Central and Eastern Europe, and Soviet preoccupation with internal affairs. Moreover, while the Soviet Union still has an immense nuclear arsenal that could devastate the United States, the likelihood of such an attack, always remote, seems to have diminished even further. Despite major uncertainties about the outcome of current internal Soviet developments, the reduction of the Soviet military threat to the United States and its allies is likely to continue in the near future. Repression, conflict, or disintegration within the Soviet Union would present immensely difficult political problems for U.S.-Soviet relations. Such developments alone, however, would not restore the NATO-Warsaw Pact confrontation that drove postwar nuclear planning on both sides, justifying immense arsenals and nuclear forces poised for immediate response. The disappearance of that confrontation and the unification of Germany have transformed the security landscape almost irreversibly. And even if the Soviet Union reverts to a cen

OCR for page 1
Page 2trally controlled authoritarian regime, such a government would likely be too preoccupied with internal problems to engage in external aggression. Beyond this, the future Soviet Union, or any successor government with control over its nuclear weapons, may well wish, for reasons of cost, security, and diplomacy, to continue reducing the nuclear arms competition with the United States and to seek some level of cooperative security arrangements with the United States and the new European community. In the face of these uncertainties, we believe it is possible and desirable to seek a new nuclear policy, with appropriate hedges against unanticipated adverse outcomes. The challenges to the United States lie in developing policies and procedures that would encourage any future Soviet leadership to continue engaging in actions that would reduce military expenditures, increase international stability, and encourage joining with the West in a variety of cooperative ventures. The reduced Soviet threat and political changes in Eastern Europe have further decreased the already declining European willingness to rely on nuclear weapons for defense. European governments are actively seeking a new organizational framework involving some level of cooperative security, probably including a measure of joint management of nuclear weapons. Joint management would serve to reduce incentives for proliferation and further constrain the role of nuclear weapons to that of ultimate deterrent. In East Asia the situation is not as clear, and there is more potential for nuclear arms competition and proliferation. Opportunities exist, however, to reduce the risks to regional security. These could extend to cooperation with China on command and control problems, enhanced cooperation on security and safety measures for nuclear weapons, and broadened agreements on verifiable deployment and exercise restraints. Taking advantage of these opportunities will also require careful attention to sustaining United States-Japanese cooperation in security matters. Conflicts involving major U.S. interests remain possible in many parts of the world. The danger of nuclear proliferation in unstable areas may increase. The increased commercial availability of the advanced technologies supporting nuclear weapons and their delivery systems has now put nuclear weapons technically within reach of a growing number of developing countries, as well as all of the major industrial nations. Successful efforts to control nuclear proliferation will require reducing the political demand for nuclear weapons as well as much more effective efforts to control the supply of the specific technologies. While defenses against nonnuclear tactical missiles are, under some circumstances, feasible and desirable, United States and Soviet strategic nuclear missiles continue to have an advantage over any defenses thus far considered. This study assumes no strategic antimissile systems beyond the minimal capability permitted by the Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

OCR for page 1
Page 3 Under these circumstances, some of which are new and some of which represent a continuous evolution over the past several decades, we believe that the security of the United States will rest to a large degree on cooperative measures involving other countries. We believe this is especially true for nuclear weapons. We conclude that the principal objective of U.S. nuclear policy should be to strengthen the emerging political consensus that nuclear weapons should serve no purpose beyond the deterrence of, and possible response to, nuclear attack by others. In judging future requirements for nuclear weapons, one must avoid both the conclusion that acquiring more weapons is always more “conservative” and the conclusion that reducing the number of weapons is always more “stabilizing.” 1 Instead, we seek an appropriate balance between the positive and adverse effects of nuclear weapons in the face of many uncertainties. We recommend, in furtherance of a new nuclear policy, that: (1) In the agreements that follow the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), the United States and the Soviet Union should reduce the number of nuclear warheads in their strategic forces to 3,000-4,000 actual warheads, a reduction of as much as a factor of 3 below anticipated START levels. The remaining strategic forces of both sides should be made more survivable, both by eliminating the most vulnerable forces (in particular MIRVed ICBMs) and by reducing the vulnerability of retained forces. To these ends, agreements should be crafted so that both sides are permitted to develop more survivable, less threatening systems and are discouraged from retaining or building systems that do not meet these criteria. Concurrently, U.S. tactical nuclear forces based in Europe should be reduced by an even larger factor or eliminated entirely in coordination with U.S. allies. Nuclear weapons should also be removed from surface ships. (2) As world conditions permit, the United States should seek further reductions in the number of nuclear warheads in U.S. and Soviet strategic forces. The nuclear forces of all other nuclear powers should be included in these reductions as well. The appropriate new levels cannot be specified at this time, but it seems reasonable to the committee that U.S. strategic forces could in time be reduced to 1,000-2,000 nuclear warheads, provided that such a multilateral agreement included appropriate levels and verification measures for the other nations that possess nuclear weapons. This step would require successful implementation of our proposed post-START U.S.-Soviet reductions, related confidence-building measures in all the countries involved, and multilateral security cooperation in areas such as conventional force deployments and planning. (3) As part of any agreements that follow START, the United States should seek to incorporate procedures to actually destroy the nuclear warheads associated with reduced strategic systems. Initially, either the entire

OCR for page 1
Page 4warhead or preferably the contained fissionable material could be placed in secure monitored storage. As a separate initiative, the United States should seek to negotiate agreements with the Soviet Union to ensure that additional fissionable material would not enter the weapons cycle from new production or the nation's peaceful nuclear program. (4) The United States should continue to improve the survivability and reliability of the nuclear warning, communication, command, and control system regardless of how many nuclear warheads are retained. Progress in these areas requires improved hardware and software, increased transparency between the United States and the Soviet Union, decreased reliance on destroying time-urgent targets, and assurance that even partially destroyed forces can threaten the minimum set of targets essential for deterrence. Specifically, to improve command and control, the United States should install permissive action links (PALs) or equivalent devices on all sea-based nuclear weapons, including sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). At the same time, the United States should encourage other nuclear powers to install PALs in all their forces. A continued effort should be made to review and improve these systems and the human and electronic organizations operating them. (5) With respect to Europe, the United States should continue to support the evolution of cooperative security arrangements. NATO can still play a useful role, but the United States should encourage the creation of a broader European organization, which would not exclude any major regions, for the purpose of achieving more lasting security cooperation, including cooperation in the nuclear field. Such an organization could serve the following purposes: improving transparency among the present nuclear states regarding deployments, safety, command and control, and warning systems affecting possible nuclear threats inside and outside Europe; reviewing plans for any new nuclear system, upgrade, or deployments, or any increase in the levels of systems, and making recommendations regarding these plans to the appropriate political body; preparing to participate in the next reduction negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union; and, eventually, providing for some measure of joint management of the nuclear forces remaining in Europe, including those of Great Britain and France under agreed political auspices. (6) Sustained U.S.-Japanese cooperation on security is crucial to limit both security threats and nuclear proliferation in East Asia. Accordingly, despite economic rivalries, attention to continuing this cooperation deserves high priority. Beyond this, prospects for regional cooperation in East Asia are more uncertain. The groundwork should be laid now for cooperation in

OCR for page 1
Page 5nuclear matters among concerned countries, including the four major powers in the region (Japan, China, the United States, and the Soviet Union), each of which has independent sources of strength and its own security agenda. The United States should seek cooperative efforts with the powers concerned on: security and safety measures, command and control, and declaration and verification of present deployments and future plans. (7) The United States should continue to give high priority to efforts to prevent the further proliferation of nuclear weapons. Emphasis should be given to decreasing the demand or incentives for proliferation as well as to limiting the supply of technology. The United States should take the lead in supporting international efforts to: strengthen the existing Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime by augmenting the safeguards required of treaty signatories on their own programs and on the programs of countries to which they export materials and equipment; strengthen existing international agreements restricting technology applicable to nuclear weapons programs and related delivery systems and, where necessary, negotiate new ones; promote parallel declarations by all nuclear weapon states that they will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear weapon states in any circumstances and that their nuclear weapons serve no purpose beyond the deterrence of, or possible response to, the use of nuclear weapons by other nuclear weapon states; and support regional arms control efforts aimed at limiting arms races and local security threats. NOTE 1. As used in this report in reference to nuclear weapons, the term is restricted to what is commonly referred to as “crisis stability.” This designates the condition under which the ability of a nation's forces to deliver “unacceptable” retaliation is not impaired by being struck first by an opponent's forces.