At the end of this week, thousands of experts in one of humanity’s most terrible possibilities — nuclear war — will meet here in Washington to discuss how to avoid what they have spent their careers planning to do, in hopes they never will. Michael Krepon, one of America’s most experienced practitioners of the arcane art of nuclear planning, offers the following critique of both Russia and America’s plans for nuclear modernization. Of course, the Russians aren’t attending the summit, but Krepon’s arguments are really aimed at the American national security establishment. Read on. The Editor.
Russia possesses more tactical nuclear weapons and a larger number of low-yield nuclear weapons than the United States. Published estimates suggest that Russia possesses perhaps four times more tactical nuclear weapons than the United States. But this ratio is deceiving. The Kremlin’s heavy reliance on these weapons comes from a place of weakness rather than strength. The United States does not need as many tactical nuclear weapons as Russia, but does still need to base some in Europe.
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