Full Document

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.8 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Summary Only

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback152 pages $15.00 $12.00 20% Web Discount

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been reexamining its basic assumptions about foreign policy and instruments of national security policy. This study examines the possible roles of nuclear weapons in contemporary U.S. national security policy. The U.S. nuclear forces are only somewhat reduced from what the nation has maintained for decades. It has a range of nuclear strategies and postures among which to choose: from abolition of U.S. nuclear weapons, aggressive reductions and “dealerting,” “business as usual, only smaller,” more aggressive nuclear posture, to nuclear emphasis. For most foreseeable combat situations, advanced conventional weapons are probably sufficiently effective if there are enough of them and they are used properly; still, if other options are inadequate and the stakes are high enough, nuclear weapons could give the United States a decisive advantage. Nuclear weapons remain the final guarantor of U.S. security, and the United States might wish to retain the traditional threat of nuclear retaliation to deter threats to its national existence. At the same time, it should have the operational flexibility to in fact use a modest number of nuclear weapons if the need were overwhelming and other options were inadequate. Training should include use of nuclear weapons in exercises. Any nuclear strategy the United States chooses will require a different set of nuclear forces and operations practices than it has now.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Nuclear Weapons and U.S. Security — Back to Basics

  • Chapter Three

    Contemporary Roles for U.S. Nuclear Weapons

  • Chapter Four

    Stressing Cases: Some Contemporary Comparisons Between Nuclear and Conventional Weapons

  • Chapter Five

    Implications for Future U.S. Nuclear Strategy

  • Chapter Six


Research conducted by

The research reported here was sponsored by the United States Air Force and performed within the RAND Project AIR FORCE.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.