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Abolishing the U.S. Nuclear War Plan Presentation by Robert S. Norris and the NRDC Nuclear Program Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference.

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Presentation on theme: "Abolishing the U.S. Nuclear War Plan Presentation by Robert S. Norris and the NRDC Nuclear Program Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference."— Presentation transcript:

1 Abolishing the U.S. Nuclear War Plan Presentation by Robert S. Norris and the NRDC Nuclear Program Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference Washington DC; June 18-19, 2001

2 Deterrence Historically deterrence has been a highly elastic concept. Nuclear weapons have been assigned the role of deterring a wide variety of potential threats. Recent doctrinal assertions claim that U.S. readiness to preempt or retaliate with nuclear weapons deter, nuclear, chemical and biological attacks.

3 Recent apologia I The current post-Cold war period is one of great political and military dynamism. Nuclear weapons deter WMD use by regional powers. New or modified types may be needed to target underground bunkers or perform other missions. Source: National Institute for Public Policy, Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control (January 2001)

4 Recent apologia II “I recently began to worry that... far too many people were beginning to believe that perhaps nuclear weapons no longer had value.” Central Deterrence –Russia (Capability One) Deter wider threats (Capability Two) Source: Paul Robinson, SNL White Paper, Pursuing a New Nuclear Weapons Policy for the 21 st Century (April 2001)

5 Targets and War Planning The act of targeting a nation-state or a group with nuclear weapons defines it as an enemy. This first step sets in motion activities to locate targets, assign weapons to destroy them, and calculate damage expectancies. The result is a permanent, in-place operational plan (e.g. SIOP) with extensive forces and demanding requirements.

6 Estimated Targets in the SIOP 2,260 targets in Russia 1,100 Nuclear weapons facilities 500 Conventional military 500 War Supporting Industry 160 Leadership and command and control China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea - 100s of targets.

7 Targeting Requirements Drive Nuclear Forces U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces on Alert Day-to-Day: 2,600 warheads Generated: 3,600 warheads All available: 6,200 warheads Total forces ( 7,200 warheads) ICBMs (2,000) SLBMs (3,450) Bombers (1,750) As of June 2001

8 PD-59 and NSDD-13 Endure Phoenix Study (1991) STRATCOM Briefing to Cheney, Powell (1992) Sun City (1993) Sun City Extended (1994) STRATCOM White Paper (1996) STRATCOM Warfighter Assessment (1996) Source: Hans M. Kristensen, The Matrix of Deterrence: U.S. Strategic Command Force Structure Studies (May 2001), The Nautilus Institute

9 Dominance of the SIOP If we were to come down below [START III levels] it would require us to change our strategic plan. President Bill Clinton, June 4, 2000 Our overall nuclear employment policy [states that] the United States forces must be capable of and be seen to be capable of holding at risk those critical assets and capabilities that a potential adversary most values. Walter Slocombe, Department of Defense, May 23, 2000 Our force structure needs to be robust, flexible and credible enough to meet the worst threats we can reasonably postulate. Our nation must always maintain the ability to convince potential aggressors to choose peace rather than war, restraint rather than escalation, and termination rather than conflict continuation. Adm. Richard Mies, US Strategic Command, May 23, 2000

10 The Need for Change Current START III proposals for smaller forces (between 2,500 and 1,500 warheads) that remain grounded in the basic SIOP assumptions are not fruitful avenues to pursue. The “needs” of the war plan now dictate the possibilities and limitations of arms control and force reductions. Force requirements must be decoupled from the current plans. For real change something more fundamental must occur.

11 “Today’s Russia is not our enemy” Clarify the U.S. relationship with Russia and reconcile declaratory and employment policy. A permanent, in-place war plan is a recipe for unceasing arms requirements.

12 A Paradigm Shift is Needed The U.S. should abolish the SIOP as it is currently understood, implemented and practiced. Restrict the roles and missions assigned to nuclear weapons. The sole reason for U.S. possession of nuclear weapons is to deter the use of nuclear weapons by another state. Reduce the geo-political value of nuclear weapons, by word and action.

13 Replace the SIOP with a Contingency Model The U.S. should not target nuclear weapons against any nuclear weapon state in peacetime. The current SIOP process should be replaced with a contingency war planning capability. A new paradigm will alleviate the need for large numbers of weapons. A new paradigm will defuse the negative political and psychological implications that go with targeting.

14 Openness and Honesty Abandon much of the secrecy that surrounds the SIOP. Demand explanations of the reasoning behind the war plan and be told would happen if it were executed. The nuclear war planning function carried out in Omaha should be brought to Washington to be done by a joint civilian-military staff with Congressional involvement.

15 Unilateral Deep Cuts Unilaterally reduce U.S. nuclear forces and challenge the Russians to do the same. Deep cuts on the road to the “cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament” (to quote the U.S. NPT obligation) can only occur with revised presidential guidance.

16 Don’t Make Things Worse Reject the integration of national missile defense with offensive nuclear deterrent forces. MAD (“mutual assured destruction”) is neither a policy choice nor a doctrine. It is rather a condition, a situation that two nations find themselves in when they have nuclear weapons aimed at one another. Nuclear vulnerability cannot be overcome through missile defense sufficiently to alter the fundamental calculus of nuclear deterrence. The only effective way to alter MAD is to stop targeting one another.

17 False Promises Any plan by the Bush administration for lower numbers of strategic warheads that does not abandon counterforce as the ruling assumption— the core strategy of the war plan—is flawed and dangerous. Such proposals merely perpetuate Cold War practices at lower levels and are not a “clear and clean break.” Plans to abrogate the ABM Treaty and deploy national missile defense systems only makes matters worse.

18 A “clear and clean break” Something more fundamental must occur in order to create real change. As we have seen through our nuclear war simulation model, the place to begin is with dismantling the SIOP war planning process and apparatus, and the assumptions upon which it is built.

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