Last week I participated in an online panel about nuclear modernization. My presentation focused on six slides that summarize why the U.S. has no choice but to modernize its triad of nuclear weapons. The argument comes down to this: (1) There is no effective defense against a large-scale nuclear attack; (2) The U.S. therefore deters attack by threatening unacceptable retaliation, but all the weapons in our triad must soon retire; (3) Maintaining an effective deterrent does not preclude nuclear reductions and costs a small fraction of the defense budget; (4) The Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine will host most U.S. warheads in the future because it cannot be destroyed in a surprise attack when at sea; (5) Land-based ballistic missiles need to be modernized because they greatly complicate the challenge of disarming the U.S. in an attack; and (6) Bombers provide flexibility in a crisis, but their cruise missiles are becoming unreliable and must be replaced to successfully penetrate enemy defenses. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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