Nuclear Weapon’s Future

For almost a half a century, the United States and the U.S.S.R. fought a nuclear arms war, the “Cold War.” The “Cold War” officially ended August 19, 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. Ironically, the war ended without a battle or a shot fired. In fact, nuclear weapons have only been used once. In the Second World War, the United States dropped two nuclear bombs, one on Hiroshima, the other on Nagasaki. So, what is the future of the Nuclear Weapons Policy, housed in the United States? For now, the future seems to lie in reduction and deterrence.
In 1991, the United States and Russia signed the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I). According to the treaty, the United States and Russia reduce the number of strategic nuclear warheads deployed by the two countries from 13,000 and 11,000, respectively, to around 8,000 each. The Second treaty (START II), signed in 1993 and ratified in 1996 by the United States says that each nation would further condense their number of deployed warheads to between 3,000 and 4,500, which brings the total to approximately 10,000 nuclear weapons for each side, by the projected 2003 date. START III, which would reduce the level of warheads to 2,000-2,500, cannot be discussed until START II Russia ratifies START II. In addition, nuclear testing ended for both sides and the production of weapon-grade fissile material has stopped. The nuclear treaties leave enough nuclear capability, in both the United States and Russia, to damage an attacking nation. In fact, without Russia and the United States nuclear arsenal, there are a little over a thousand weapons divided among the rest of the world, as reported by the Center for Defense Information, as long as all the countries in the world approve Test Ban Treaty. In addition, defense experts believe it would require only a little over a thousand nuclear missiles to fen off an attack. Therefore, neither country needs to fear that they will not have the strength to retaliate. Actually, the United States and its NATO allies retain their Cold War “weapons of last resort’ doctrine that allows the first use of nuclear weapons if deemed necessary to cope with non-nuclear attacks, and Russia has announced that she will abandon the USSR’s no-first-use pledge for a position similar to NATO’s. ‘“The US and Russia have 5,000 to 6,000 nuclear missiles ready to launch on 15 minutes notice,’ says Joe Cirincione of the Henry L. Stimson Center. ‘That hasn’t change since the beginning of the Cold War.’” (Landy, p.2)
Reduction also saves the country money, keeping financial advisors for the countries welfare, pushing for arms reduction. From 1940 to 1996, the Brooking Institution estimates that the U.S. government spent roughly five and a half trillion dollars in preparation for a nuclear war, in today’s terms (3.5 actual). That would be the combination of all the Fortune 500 companies’ revenue. Then in 1995, they consumed another twenty-seven billion dollars to prevent a nuclear war. In fact, each of the B-2 bomber lifecycle cost falls above two and a half billion dollars, accounting for about fifty-five percent of the total spending on nuclear capabilities.
During the cold War Era, nuclear power became the strategic deterrence against both a nuclear attack and a major conventional war, because a more effective plan had not happened and the adversarial relationship between the U.S. and Soviet Union made it irresponsible to rely on good intentions to prevent a nuclear assault.
The character of nuclear weapons and the diverse means for delivering meant that attempts to defend the United States or its allies against nuclear attacks on the population could be over come with much less effort than would have to be invested in the defenses…[However] deterrence is likely to succeed only if there are credible plans for what to do if it fails, but constructing such a plan is exceedingly difficult, and attempts to make the threat of nuclear retaliation credible can be seen as aggressive advantage seeking by the other side…additional countries to assert the same need and right, leading to further nuclear proliferation. (Academy of Science, p.3)
Proof of the power of the fear of nuclear retribution as a prevention comes from comments of senior Iraqi officials, “the United States successfully prevented Iraqi use of weapons