Society’s resistance to even minor changes in our nuclear posture demonstrates that it sees little or no risk in the nuclear status quo. This article proposes using an engineering discipline known as risk analysis for determining whether society’s nuclear optimism is justified. If requested by Congress and performed by the National Academies, a risk analysis of nuclear deterrence could bring greater objectivity to the debate over our nuclear posture. The National Academies have frequently been called on by the government to provide objective, impartial advice on similar matters, as exemplified by a current study of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The major difference is that, in the case of nuclear deterrence, it is essential to mitigate the risk before disaster strikes, not afterward.
The Bulletin elevates expert voices above the noise. But as an independent, nonprofit media organization, our operations depend on the support of readers like you. Help us continue to deliver quality journalism that holds leaders accountable. Your support of our work at any level is important. In return, we promise our coverage will be understandable, influential, vigilant, solution-oriented, and fair-minded. Together we can make a difference.