"At the end of the Cold War the Soviet military threat to Western Europe disappeared, and with it the principal rationale for U.S. nuclear policy. Since then the United States has been searching for a coherent policy as a basis for planning future nuclear forces. This search involving a small circle of experts received little public attention until the recent nuclear tests by India and Pakistan dramatized the emergence of a new nuclear order with implications far beyond South Asia. However, the U.S. policy community remains deeply divided over the future role of nuclear weapons. U.S. nuclear weapons policy has tried to recognize new realities while preserving many Cold War era principles. The nuclear posture retains thousands of nuclear weapons, many on a high state of alert. A multibillion dollar research program continues to develop a ballistic missile defense system for U.S. territory, but technical uncertainties about the feasibility and cost persist. The new realities are reflected in a series of concrete actions: sharply lower budgets for nuclear missions; substantial reductions in deployed nuclear forces; reductions in the alert status of strategic bombers and theater nuclear weapons; and reorganization and reorientation (and renaming) of several Cold War agencies such as the former Strategic Air Command. The United States has also ceased nuclear testing and the manufacture of nuclear weapons. The nuclear relationship with Russia has undergone a metamorphosis from confrontation to cooperation, although elements of distrust and suspicion remain. Under the so-called Nunn-Lugar legislation, a series of measures have been taken to reduce the possibility that Russia will export nuclear weapons and knowledge, while improving the safety of those weapons that still remain in its stockpile."
Strategic Forum No.156