U.S. Strategic Nuclear Weapon Policy: Do We Have One? Should There Be One?

by S. T. Cohen

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In view of U.S. public opinion on the disutility of strategic nuclear options and the improbability that selective strategic options can be conducted in any predictable controlled way, perhaps there should be no specific U.S. policy for the employment of its strategic weapons. Instead, the underlying premise for the U.S. strategic force should be based on the expectation of nonuse; and, to make this expectation realistic, a strategic force should be acquired whose characteristics are based essentially on minimizing vulnerability to nuclear attack. Regarding land-based strategic systems one such approach might be a class of small, highly mobile ballistic missiles whose warhead and guidance components are separated, during peacetime, from the propulsion component--thereby allowing a large dispersal of the force. Such a concept would pose no first-strike threat and would present no problems regarding accidental or unauthorized launch. 27 pp.

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