The Folly of Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Defense One

The Folly of Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Amid the threats of Armageddon being hurled by Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, there is much discussion of tactical nuclear weapons — in South Korea, where there is growing sentiment for their return, and in the United States, where there is growing interest in adding new types to the arsenal. Both ideas are unwise and deserve to be rejected.

The arguments for adding another low-yield warhead design to the current U.S. stockpile don’t add up. We already have three warhead types whose yields can be dialed down (or up). They would be delivered by air, not by forces in the field, because the U.S. Army reached the conclusion that it’s folly to use tactical nuclear weapons in a land battle. However delivered, tactical nuclear weapons get in the way of U.S. soldiers.

Advocates argue that small mushroom clouds are better than big mushroom clouds. They believe it is important to have rungs for escalation and escalation control in nuclear exchanges. If, however, large mushroom clouds are insufficient as a deterrent, small mushroom clouds are unlikely to be more persuasive.

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