The theory behind deterrence

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The major powers’ new nuclear strategy– escalate to de-escalate – sounds like the start of a new arms race, while low-yield warheads are flying off the shelves.

The plan outlined in the US Nuclear Posture Review 2018 (NPR) to create a low-yield submarinelaunched ballistic missile (SLBM) has created a stir both at home and abroad. In Washington, 16 Democratic senators sent a letter to President Trump warning that the NPR would “increase the risk of a nuclear arms race and raise the real possibility of nuclear conflict”. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the NPR “confrontational” and “anti-Russian”, and China’s Ministry of National Defence urged the US to “discard its cold-war mentality” and “shoulder its own special and primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament”. But is US strategic thinking on lowyield nuclear weapons really a recipe for disaster?

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