Qualitative Constraints on Conventional Armaments

An Emerging Issue

by S. J. Dudzinsky, James Digby

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This report addresses the question of whether or not qualitative constraints on conventional armaments are desirable, feasible, and acceptable ways of promoting U.S. national security objectives. Discussion centers around possible U.S.-USSR agreements and emphasizes the arms control implications of new-generation conventional arms, which include precision-guided munitions and remotely piloted vehicles. Incentives for constraints include (1) enhancement of U.S.-USSR security and that of their allies, (2) prospects for resource economies, and (3) elimination of catastrophic instabilities. The most restrictive form of qualitative constraints would prohibit development, testing, production, and operational deployment of weapons systems that fit into an agreed-upon performance category. Combined qualitative-quantitative constraints, however, have aspects that may be more acceptable to the United States. Over the short and medium term, it is important to consider constraints on large, traditional, penetration weapons systems that are becoming more expensive and more vulnerable to precision weapons. Over the long term, small, efficient modern weapons are the ones that must be dealt with and which governments — ultimately — must control.

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