Accession Number:

ADA536263

Title:

De-Alerting Nuclear Forces

Descriptive Note:

Corporate Author:

INST FOR NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES US AIR FORCE ACADEMY CO

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2009-01-01

Pagination or Media Count:

13.0

Abstract:

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the issues surrounding de-alerting of intercontinental ballistic missiles ICBMs. De-alerting is defined as the introduction of reversible changes to ICBM nuclear weapons, their launch andor command and control systems in order to lengthen the time required to launch these weapons. De-alerting the posture of the United States nuclear arsenal is a concept that has been examined at length by military and non-governmental communities since the 1990s. Indeed, the United States de-alerted several classes of nuclear weapons both during and after the Cold War. Today the primary concern of de-alerting proponents is an uncontrolled escalation spiral in a crisis that leads to a rapid launch of promptly alerted nuclear forces. The call for de-alerting U.S. nuclear weapons does not affect all components of the nuclear triad equally. The posture of heavy bombers, for instance, has already been significantly relaxed. Submarine launched ballistic missiles SLBMs, while relatively prompt are also survivable. Thus, there is less pressure to use or lose these weapons in a crisis, and therefore less impulse to de-alert SLBMs. For these reasons, the focus of de-alerting proponents is mainly on ICBMs.

Subject Categories:

  • Surface-Launched Guided Missiles

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE