U.S. Strategic Forces Under the Prospective START Treaty

by James Scouras


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The prospective START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) treaty imposes constrained set of choices, or tradeoffs, on U.S. strategic force planners. This Note presents these tradeoffs based on the status of negotiations as of January 1990 and discusses their implications for U.S. strategic forces. Alternative U.S. strategic force structures are then developed consistent with either the U.S. or Soviet START negotiating positions. These are evaluated using measures of deterrence, crisis stability, and coercive potential. The study concludes that deterring, stable U.S. force structures are possible under either the U.S. or the Soviet negotiating positions. Thus, for the United States, force structure issues need not be a critical impediment to an agreement. Nevertheless, some force structures are more advantageous to U.S. national security than others. Recommendations regarding both the U.S. START negotiating position and U.S. strategic force programs are provided to realize these advantages.

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