Tonight’s debate: Nuclear weapons policy and the US presidential election

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January 14, 2020

January Magazine Issue

INTRODUCTION

Why nuclear decision-making should be a focus of the 2020 campaign

Tonight, Democratic presidential candidates take the stage for the last debate before the Iowa caucus. Will this debate, hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register, give more time to nuclear weapons issues than we’ve seen so far? This entirely free-access issue of the subscription magazine lays out the nuclear weapons topics that we should ask all US presidential candidates. Free-access in the Bulletin magazine.

NUCLEAR RISK

The overwhelming case for no first use

The arguments in favor of the United States’ declaring that the only purpose of its nuclear weapons is to deter others – in other words, that in no circumstances will this country use nuclear weapons first – are far stronger than the arguments against this stance. John Holdren, former Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, makes the case. Free-access in the Bulletin magazine.

NUCLEAR RISK

No to no first use—for now

The US should continue to work to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy with a long-term aim of shifting to a no-first-use policy; the question should not be whether, but under what conditions to make such a shift. James Miller, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, writes that while conditions are not ripe today, working to establish them is a valuable goal. Free-access in the Bulletin magazine.

NUCLEAR RISK

Loose cannons: The president and US nuclear posture

The US president’s unfettered authority to order the use of nuclear weapons and an unstable US nuclear posture create a compound existential risk. Bruce Blair of Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security wonders whether an impulsive, incompetent, or demented president might attempt to order the use of nuclear weapons without apparent or sufficient cause. It is not beyond imagination. Free-access in the Bulletin magazine.

Be Influential. Be Vigilant. Be Solution-Oriented.

NUCLEAR RISK

What the presidential candidates should be asked about arms control and nonproliferation

The next president will have to deal with many pressing questions, but few are as consequential as this one: Do we want to live in a world in which the number of nuclear weapons is going up or going down? Alexandra Bell of the Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation believes the American public should be aware of the candidates’ various nuclear weapons plans before they vote. Free-access in the Bulletin magazine.

NUCLEAR RISK

It’s time to jettison Nuclear Posture Reviews

Brad Roberts of the Institute for Defense Analyses thinks the existing architecture of Pentagon policy and Nuclear Posture Reviews has failed to deliver the needed responses to the new strategic environment. A different approach is needed, one that embeds decisions about nuclear policy and posture in a coherent defense strategy. Free-access in the Bulletin magazine.

DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY

Cool your jets: Some perspective on the hyping of hypersonic weapons

The US Defense Department has claimed hypersonic weapons will provide revolutionary new capabilities and will present daunting new threats against which there is currently no effective defense. Many of the claims are overstated; much of what these weapons do could be accomplished more easily and cheaply using better-established technology. Free-access in the Bulletin magazine.

NUCLEAR NOTEBOOK

United States nuclear forces, 2020

The US nuclear arsenal remained roughly unchanged in the last year, with the Defense Department maintaining an estimated stockpile of approximately 3,800 warheads. Of these, only 1,750 warheads are deployed, while approximately 2,050 are held in reserve. Additionally, approximately 2,000 retired warheads are awaiting dismantlement, giving a total inventory of approximately 5,800 nuclear warheads. Free-access in the Bulletin magazine.

WHAT’S NEW AT THE BULLETIN

Rachel Bronson speaks at the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council

Bulletin president and CEO Rachel Bronson will be joining the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council on January 16th to engage voters on the necessity for nuclear inquiry in the presidential campaign. She will be presenting “The New Nuclear Landscape: What You Need to Know” at the event, held in partnership with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Learn more.

WHAT’S NEW AT THE BULLETIN

Watch Live: the 2020 Doomsday Clock announcement

The Bulletin will host a live international news conference at 10 a.m. EST on Thursday, January 23, 2020, to announce the 2020 time of the Doomsday Clock. Watch the live stream on the Bulletin’s website as Bulletin executive chair Jerry Brown, leaders of The Elders Mary Robinson and Ban Ki-moon, and Bulletin Science and Security Board members reveal the time. Learn more.

                

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