Cover: Qualities Precede Quantities

Qualities Precede Quantities

Deciding How Much Is Enough for U.S. Nuclear Forces

Published Sep 27, 2023

by Edward Geist

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The discovery that the People's Republic of China is expanding its nuclear arsenal, Russia's "suspension" of the New START arms control treaty and aggression in Ukraine, and North Korea's evolving nuclear capabilities have led some to argue that the United States needs to expand its own nuclear forces to deter these potential adversaries. This Perspective articulates a framework for determining "how much is enough" for U.S. nuclear forces in the emerging strategic environment. The author argues that adversary perceptions, rather than quantitative comparisons, should be the primary criteria for sizing U.S. nuclear forces.

This Perspective was sponsored by the Smith Richardson Foundation and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Program of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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