Has Soviet nuclear strategy changed?

by Benjamin S. Lambeth

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This paper was presented at a conference on "The Calculus of Terror: Nuclear Strategy and Its Discontents," sponsored by the UCLA Project on Politics and War and held at the Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Italy, December 9-13, 1985. By comparing the new tone of recent statements by Soviet leaders on nuclear issues with ongoing trends in Soviet force modernization, it attempts to explain inconsistencies between Soviet rhetoric and behavior and to determine whether Soviet nuclear planning has changed in accord with the leadership statements, or whether Soviet leaders have been manipulating foreign audiences with a propaganda campaign. The author examines recent Soviet statements on nuclear deterrence and the Strategic Defense Initiative and concludes that in the future, Soviet doctrine is likely to continue to stress the importance of assuring Soviet security through the pursuit of plausible war options.

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