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Deterrence in the Shadow of Terror: US Nuclear Weapons Policy in the Aftermath of 9/11

Dr S. Samuel C. Rajiv is Associate Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • IDSA Occasional Paper No. 25

    In order to better face the twin challenges of catastrophic terrorism and nuclear proliferation and take into account the diminished Russian threat, US policy makers in the decade after 9/11 been reducing the role and the numbers of nuclear weapons in US security strategy and making changes in the existing US arsenal. The paper assesses the efforts that have been made to fulfil the above objectives. It takes the view that efforts to improve and sustain the potency of US nuclear arsenal are far more pertinent than efforts to reduce the salience of its nuclear arsenal. The paper then goes on to show that the US nuclear weapon modernisation programmes and the uncertainties associated with it led to a largely negative US role in crucial multi-lateral arms control and disarmament initiatives like FMCT and CTBT. At the bilateral level, the robust pursuit of technologies like ballistic missile defences (BMD) through the Bush and the Obama administrations have created complications in arms control efforts ranging from the ABM Treaty to New START. The paper concludes by examining the comprehensive review of US nuclear weapons currently underway in the light of budgetary constraints and Obama administration policy positions in the post-2010 NPR environment.

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