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The Future of US Nuclear Deterrence and the Impact of the Global Zero Movement

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Technical Report

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Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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Advocates have recently proffered the Global Zero Commission GZC proposal as an alternative US nuclear strategy. The potential impact of the GZC proposal warrants a thorough examination of its background, theoretical roots, assumptions and impacts to include a comparison to US strategy. This papers analysis finds the overall GZC framework to be insufficient and potentially harmful to US national security.The GZ recommends an aggressive advance toward nuclear weapons elimination and proposes short-term reductions well beyond current US plans. The proposal presumes significant international cooperation. The most appealing GZC recommendation is for a de facto minimum deterrence model en route to GZ. To its detriment, however, the GZC proposal relies on the implausibility of future nuclear conflict with Russia or China and that a reduced US arsenal will remain a capable, credible deterrent. Ironically, the GZC touts superior conventional forces and Ballistic Missile Defense BMD systems as a replacement for a US nuclear deterrent even as these capabilities appear to fuel further nuclear arms races. A final GZC proposal shortcoming is the lack of any definitive recommendations specifically addressing continued nuclear proliferation by rogue states.Finally, this paper provides three recommendations 1 US arsenal size considerations must be driven by a resolute prioritization of national security maintenance and not devolve into a utopian pursuit of numerical reductions 2 BMD deployment must be tempered to prevent global strategic disruptions 3 a coherent strategy to counter nuclear proliferation by rogue nations must be developed, socialized, and pursued.

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