Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Debunking the Mythology   [open pdf - 349KB]

This paper is a capstone document on two levels. First, it is a linked follow-on to Steve Lambert's (with Dave Miller) Russia's Crumbling Tactical Nuclear Weapons Complex: An Opportunity for Arms Control (INSS Occasional Paper 12, April 1997). That paper was derived from their Naval Postgraduate School thesis, and it was selected for the award of the INSS Linhard Outstanding Researcher Award. Second, this current paper also caps a remarkable series of closely related research by the team of John Cappello, Gwen Hall, and Steve Lambert. They previously wrote A Post-Cold War Nuclear Strategy Model (INSS Occasional Paper 20, July 1998--also a Linhard Award winner); "US Counter-proliferation Strategy for a New Century" (in Searching for National Security in an NBC World, INSS July 2000); and "Triad 2025: The Evolution of a New Strategic Force Posture" (in Nuclear Deterrence and Defense: Strategic Considerations, February 2001; a version was also published under that same title in National Security Studies Quarterly, Spring 2001). This paper brings both tracks full circle back to "tactical" nuclear weapons. While this topic is addressed in much more exhausting detail in Jeffrey A. Larsen and Kurt J. Klingenberger, eds. Controlling Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons: Obstacles and Opportunities (INSS, July 2001), this paper offers a concise summary of many of the difficult issues presented in addressing this category of weapons within nuclear policy and posture, and particularly within the arms control arena. Its four direct findings are worthy of full consideration and debate as we rethink the place and role of tactical nuclear weapons.

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INSS Occassional Paper 46
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