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5 questions every presidential candidate should answer: Nuclear deterrence edition

August 5, 2015

By James Cunningham

As the nuclear balance of power has grown increasingly complex in the years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the aperture with which US strategists must view the challenge of nuclear deterrence has widened. In the wake of the recent Iran deal, addressed elsewhere in this series, that aperture will likely widen further. With that challenge in mind, the next president must continue his or her predecessors’ success at avoiding the use of nuclear weapons; it may not be easy, but its importance can’t be overstated. Looking ahead, here are the five questions the next president will have to address:

1. How should American nuclear deterrence strategy change in the face of increasingly complex proliferation challenges, particularly in light of the recent nuclear deal with Iran?

In the era following World War II, the United States built an impressive, standing force of nuclear weapons. The deterrence theory guiding the development of those forces, however, was principally developed in the context of the bipolar competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. Today, strategists and presidents face a world in which nuclear weapons have proliferated to such problematic states as North Korea and Pakistan and possibly, in the decade ahead, will do so to Iran and, in their desire to balance out Iranian power, its Middle Eastern neighbors as well. They must also contend with the ongoing strategic weapons modernization programs in China and Russia. How should deterrence strategy adapt to this more complex nuclear weapons environment?

Read the full article at the American Enterprise Institute: 5 questions every presidential candidate should answer: Nuclear deterrence edition

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