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The New Triad. Diffusion, Illusion, and Confusion in the Nuclear Mission

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Technical Report

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The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) Laurel United States

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The New Triad, the Department of Defenses conceptual structure for strategic capabilities, is an impediment to clear thinking, communication, and consensus regarding nuclear issues. Its fatal flaw is the commingling of nuclear and conventional weapons, which lowers the nuclear threshold and undermines deterrence and stability. The vertices of the New Triad appear to represent little more than institutional interests intent on staking out equity, with the primary purpose of promoting the acquisition of controversial capabilities, missile defenses, conventional global strike, new nuclear warheads, rather than comprising the well-thought-out complementary components of an integrated system. Thus, it lacks the intellectual coherence necessary to communicate nuclear policy to the public and to Congress. We recommend that the new administration scrap the New Triad, divorce nuclear and conventional deterrence, and reserve nuclear weapons for deterring extreme threats and responding to extreme attacks from nuclear states for which no lesser military capabilities suffice.

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