U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: a Post-Soviet Reappraisal

Date of Graduation

Spring 1997


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


The collapse of the Soviet Union and accompanying changes in security affairs have not ameliorated the fundamental problems of international affairs, one of which is international interest in the acquisition of nuclear weapons. Both Russia and China, among others, maintain and continue to modernize arsenals of nuclear weapons. The U.S. response to these security challenges has traditionally subordinated ballistic missile defense to nuclear deterrence. Recent U.S. nuclear policy has continued this tradition. However, in addition to a continuing prohibition on a national missile defense, the capability and credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent force have been undermined by a variety of policy decisions, which this thesis examines. The United States is increasingly in the position of relying on a nuclear strategy that is complicated by rapid and steep reductions in nuclear weapons, the absence of defenses, and the erosion of reliable, appropriate nuclear forces. Changes are required both in strategy and policy if the United States is to maintain a credible, capable nuclear arsenal. These changes must include a national missile defense and a sustained effort to maintain and modernize nuclear forces that are applicable to the United States' post-Soviet security requirements.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Mark S Hewitt