Accession Number:

AD1107652

Title:

Avoiding Atomic Disaster: The Destabilizing Impacts of Conventional and Nuclear Hypersonic Intercontinental Missiles

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report

Corporate Author:

NAVAL WAR COLLEGE NEWPORT RI NEWPORT United States

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2020-05-15

Pagination or Media Count:

18.0

Abstract:

United States Strategic Command should not support the development of conventional or nuclear hypersonic intercontinental missiles HICM because they are destabilizing to other nuclear-armed nations. First, replacing the United States nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile ICBM arsenal with hypersonic payloads, whether conventional or atomic, will cause unintended consequences affecting the stability of nuclear deterrence. Without the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad, it opens the door for aggression, proliferation, and ambiguity all of which weaken nuclear deterrence. Additionally, if intercontinental-range hypersonic missiles become operational, mitigating the risks of nuclear instability is unfeasible and not worth the fiscal costs. It is expensive not to mention impractical to manage nuclear uncertainty and compete in long-term defensive and offensive arms races. In general, the operation al benefits of an intercontinental-range hypersonic capability are not worth the strategic problems they may cause. Ultimately, the United States must pursue a multilateral arms control agreement by trading its existing, superior HICM technology for strategic concessions from Russia and China. Not only would such an approach strengthen nuclear deterrence, but it would also avoid unfeasible national expenses.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Nuclear Weapons

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE