U.S. and Russian Nuclear Concepts, Past and Present


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Linton Brooks, Francis J. Gavin, and Alexei Arbatov
Meeting the Challenges of the New Nuclear Age

This is the first Occasional Paper of the project on Meeting the Challenges of the New Nuclear Age, an initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The project focuses on the dangers and opportunities presented by an increasing complex world shaped by nine states that possess nuclear weapons. The initiative addresses three dimensions of an evolving global nuclear order: 1) how the geostrategic relationships between the nuclear powers have shifted since the first nuclear age, and the impact of those changes; 2) how technological innovations (in the space, cyber, and bioweapons realm in particular, although not exclusively) are affecting existing nuclear arrangements (including the extended deterrence architecture and strategic stability); and 3) how the changes in the current global nuclear order affect the prospects for nuclear arms control, recognizing that the framework in which we are operating has changed and is increasingly challenged. The first phase of the project has concentrated on core questions generated by these changes.

This first publication, Meeting the Challenges of the New Nuclear Age: U.S. and Russian Nuclear Concepts, Past and Present, specifically explores the underlying principles, assumptions, and worldviews that underpinned and largely informed the complex interplay between these two nuclear superpowers during the Cold War and beyond.

We are extremely grateful to Ambassador Linton Brooks for introducing this publication and to Dr. Alexei Arbatov and Professor Francis Gavin for sharing their insights in their two fine essays. We also want to acknowledge the extraordinary commitment, talent, and expertise of the members of the project’s working group.

We thank the members of the Academy’s Board, Council, and Trust, as well as other Academy members for their advice and ongoing support.

Funding for Meeting the Challenges of the New Nuclear Age initiative has been provided by generous support from Louise Henry Bryson and John E. Bryson, John F. Cogan, Jr., Alan M. Dachs, Bob and Kristine Higgins, Kenneth L. and Susan S. Wallach, and Lester Crown.

Robert Legvold and Christopher Chyba
Co-Chairs, Meeting the Challenges of the New Nuclear Age project,
American Academy of Arts and Sciences