The range of nuclear deterrence strategies includes minimal or "limited" deterrence, massive retaliation with a force greater than that originally used by the aggressor, and mutual assured destruction ("MAD"). From RAND's Soviet-era work on game theory to today's current states of concern, such as North Korea and Iran, RAND has applied strategic analysis to international deterrence efforts, with particular focus on the roles of both diplomacy and missile defense systems in global and regional security.
Research conducted by:
RAND National Security Research Division;
RAND Project AIR FORCE;
RAND Arroyo Center
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The United States' 2006 reversal of its 2002 proclamation that deterrence was irrelevant to most future national security strategies is bolstered by research which shows that deterrence will likely play an ongoing role in U.S. efforts to manage a variety of threats, including both near-peer competitors and terrorist organizations.
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A new book by the late French scholar Thérèse Delpech provides a critical review and update of nuclear deterrence theory, focusing a critical eye on nuclear issues during the Cold War, examining the lessons of past nuclear crises, and outlining ways in which these lessons apply to major nuclear powers and nuclear pretenders today.
An attack on Iranian nuclear facilities by the United States or Israel would make it more, not less difficult to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions. The sympathy aroused for Iran would make containment of Iranian influence much more difficult for Israel, for the U.S., and for the Arab regimes currently allied with Washington.
Dissuading Iran from developing nuclear weapons faces major obstacles, but it's too soon to give up trying as it may still be possible to influence the outcome of Iran's internal political debate.