Arms for Uncertainty

Nuclear Weapons in US and Russian Security Policy

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  • Stephen J. Cimbala, Penn State University Brandywine, USA
  • Nuclear weapons are here to stay. They have survived into the twenty-first century as instruments of influence for the US, Russia, and other major military powers. But, unlike the Cold War era, future nuclear forces will be developed and deployed within a digital-driven world of enhanced conventional weapons. As such, established nuclear powers will have smaller numbers of nuclear weapons for the purpose of deterrence working in parallel with smarter conventional weapons and elite military personnel. The challenge is to agree proportional reductions in nuclear inventories or abstinence requiring an effective nonproliferation regime to contain aspiring or threshold nuclear weapons states.

    This is the most comprehensive view of nuclear weapons policy and strategy currently available. The author’s division of the nuclear issue into the three ages is a never seen before analytical construct. With President Obama reelected, the reduction and even elimination of nuclear weapons will now rise to the top of the agenda once more. Moreover, given the likelihood of reductions in US defense spending, the subject of the triad, which is covered in Chapter One, will no doubt be an important subject of debate, as will the issue of missile defense, covered in Chapter 10.

    This book provides an excellent analysis of the spread of nuclear weapons in Asia and the Middle East and the potential dangers of a North Korean or Iranian breakout, subjects that dominate current policy debates.

  • Contents: Foreword, Colin S. Gray; Introduction; Nuclear deterrence in a new context; Possible nuclear worlds; Getting rid of nuclear weapons; Controlling nuclear crises in digital times; Minimum deterrence: the fewer the better?; Nuclear-strategic Asia: stability or chaos?; Non-strategic nuclear weapons and ‘first use’; Denuking North Korea; Ending a nuclear war; Missile defenses and NATO-Russian security; Conclusion; Select bibliography and further reading; Index.

  • Reviews: ‘At a time when too few Americans realize the continued importance of the nuclear arsenal, Stephen Cimbala remains one of the most prolific and thoughtful scholars examining nuclear weapons theory and policy. His latest work considers issues of policy, strategy, and arms control across three nuclear ages and offers readers insight into what may prove a more dangerous future.’
    Adam B. Lowther, Center for the National Interest, USA

    ‘Cimbala's years of work on nuclear issues continue to bear fruit. This is a penetrating assessment of issues pertaining to the new nuclear order written by a veteran analyst who knows the territory extremely well. Anyone looking for a guide to the nuclear agenda should read this book.’
    Stephen Blank, US Army War College, USA