Dangerous doctrine: How new U.S. nuclear plans could backfire

A U.S. policy of preemption and a push for new nuclear weapon designs could be a recipe for disaster that makes proliferation more likely, not less, suggest CISAC researchers in the March/April Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' cover story.

Preemption and new nuclear weapons play a significant part in President George W. Bush's doctrine, as set forth in the administration's National Security Strategy and its Nuclear Posture Review, note Roger Speed, a CISAC affiliate, and emeritus Professor Michael M. May, a former director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and former CISAC co-director. President Bush reasons in the security strategy that "if we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long." To implement his strategy, he calls for the development of new nuclear weapons to penetrate bunkers that might be used to protect military commands or weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The strategy maintains that these relatively small nuclear weapons would serve as a deterrent to potential foes as well as a means of preempting a mounting threat.

Speed and May find otherwise, based on their technical and political analysis of the Bush security doctrine. "Our analysis indicates that the new weapons concepts advanced to date seem to have little to do with deterrence of a nuclear (or other WMD) attack on the United States or its allies," they write. Instead, they say, the weapons "appear to be geared toward a warfighting role, which could ultimately undermine rather than enhance U.S. security." To read their article, follow the link below.