Strategic Ambiguity, Asymmetry and Arms Control

Some Basic Considerations

by Harvey A. Averch

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An examination of some novel arms control questions that have arisen during Project RAND research on central war strategies. It is pointed out that some types of arms control agreement may be used as a tool by the Soviet Union to achieve strategic objectives undesirable to the United States, even if there is adequate inspection and verification that the terms of the agreement are being carried out. Assuming conditions between the United States and the Soviet Union similar to those existing at present, it may be difficult to distinguish between a case in which the Soviet Union seeks superiority and a case in which both sides seek stable deterrence. Furthermore, it is rational for the Soviet Union, if it seeks superiority, to engage in some types of arms control agreements with adequate inspection, provided some of the existing Soviet force becomes superfluous as new weapons are phased in.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research memorandum series. The Research Memorandum was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1973 that represented working papers meant to report current results of RAND research to appropriate audiences.

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