Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons
For sea-based weapons, the NPR called for using existing D-5s to carry a modified, lower-yield W nuclear warhead within the next few years, and a new sea-launched cruise missile added in the timeframe. These capabilities are sought to address current limitations in the U. Russian capabilities and doctrine are also worrisome.
Yet, the significant growth in the Russian low-yield arsenal, delivery systems, military exercises, and doctrine suggest the reverse—that Russia places considerable weight on these weapons to achieve its military and political objectives, and, therefore, logically would have a doctrine devoted to their use. First, non-strategic nuclear weapons provide a deterrent by denial capability. Deterrence by denial centers on the ability of the defender to deny territorial gains to the enemy, in contrast to deterrence by punishment, which centers on the threat and capacity to inflict nuclear punishment.
Any conventional attack would be met with non-strategic nuclear forces to blunt the attack, and thus deny the attacker its military objective. Due to their physical effects, non-strategic nuclear weapons are seen as being exceptional deterrence by denial weapons.
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They were used in that capacity by the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and this rationale remains. Naturally, another aspect of deterrence is to keep the enemy from using its weapons, whether they are conventional or nuclear. Accordingly, the second political and military role played by non-strategic nuclear weapons is that they serve to deter their use by opponents. But to do so is challenging, U. Their low yield would also permit limited escalation against a higher-level target set, such as Russian leadership targets, to compel termination.
Tactical nuclear weapon
Fourth, non-strategic nuclear weapons served an important doctrinal role for NATO armies today, as they did in the Cold War. They bridge the nuclear-conventional interface, maintaining linkage up the ladder of escalation. Were a conventional attack to occur, NATO would want the capabilities to use non-strategic nuclear weapons to defeat it, should conventional weapons fail to do so.
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This mission overlaps to some degree with deterrence by denial since NATO would want to deter such an attack in the first instance. If low-yield nuclear weapons failed to halt the attack, then escalation to the strategic level would be a possibility.
Tactical nuclear weapon - Wikipedia
If they believe they can achieve their objectives through the limited use of nuclear weapons, then we risk a deterrence failure. As Hyten acknowledged, the U. These assets, however, are exclusively delivered by air. Because of this limitation, the NPR proposes additional sea-based capabilities to extend the range of U. Yet, some experts argue the addition of low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missiles and a nuclear-tipped sea-launched cruise missile may not be the right solution for U. According to Acton, the main problem the U.
In his mind, Russia is challenging U. If Russia questions the U. So, what is the strategic utility of nonstrategic assets?