This paper looks freshly at how to evaluate future nuclear forces and postures. A fresh look is needed for the New Start era because the role of nuclear weapons in security continues to change — but in ways that are not well understood and have not been much discussed analytically. After reviewing past and present criteria for nuclear assessments, and contrasting enduring stances on such matters by policymakers, the author recommends evaluating options for ability to achieve generalized versions of five top-level objectives: strategic stability; crisis stability; ability for the United States to act, defeat, and defend; nonproliferation and other policy goals; and risk control.
This working paper was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted by the RAND National Defense Research Institute.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Working paper series. RAND working papers are intended to share researchers' latest findings and to solicit informal peer review. They have been approved for circulation by RAND but may not have been formally edited or peer reviewed.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.