January 2019


Nuclear modernization” is a euphemism covering a wide range of activities that constitute, in the view of many observers, a new and dangerous global nuclear arms race. And an expensive one. In the United States, the 30-year cost of the plethora of programs under the nuclear modernization umbrella—including new nuclear-capable bombers, land-based nuclear missiles, and nuclear submarines—has been estimated at $1.2 to $1.7 trillion. In this issue, leading experts on the US, Russian, and Chinese modernization programs argue for reasonable and practical ways to short-circuit or at least limit what is euphemized as “modernization” but actually constitutes a ritual squandering of national resources on weapons that can never reasonably be used. 

This entire issue of the Bulletin's subscription magazine is free-access until March 1, 2019. Check out the subscription-only articles in any issue of the Bulletin's subscription magazine by getting a token for 10 free articles from Taylor & Francis Online. This special offer is good until April 1, 2019. 


Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge TN.

Introduction: The wasteful and dangerous worldwide nuclear modernization craze

In this issue, leading experts on the US, Russian, and Chinese nuclear modernization programs argue for reasonable ways that would limit what has been euphemized as “modernization” but actually constitutes a ritual squandering of national resources on weapons that can never reasonably be used.
A missile launch. Credit: US Air Force via Wikimedia Commons.

Rebuilding an aging nuclear weapons complex: What should the United States do, and not do? An overview

Clearly, the United States could invest less in what is broadly called “nuclear modernization” and still maintain a reliable nuclear arsenal.
Jon Wolfsthal interview headshot

Jon Wolfsthal on the link between nuclear strategy and the nuclear modernization budget

In this interview with Bulletin editor-in-chief John Mecklin, nuclear arms control and nonproliferation expert Jon Wolfsthal provides his wide-ranging views on how the new Congress might deal with US plans for a $1 trillion-plus modernization of its nuclear arsenal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with US President Donald Trump. Credit: CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Russian views of US nuclear modernization

Even though the two militaries stay in touch on a 24/7 basis, there is a clear need to resume a US-Russian strategic-stability dialogue, to avoid fateful miscalculation.
A weapon on display. Credit: Max Smith via Wikimedia Commons.

What the United States can do to stabilize its nuclear relationship with China

The United States can take a number of steps to prevent the US-China nuclear relationship from falling into a negative cycle of action-and-reaction.
A small rocket launcher. Credit: US Army via Wikimedia Commons.

Smarter US modernization, without new nuclear weapons

Of all the Trump administration’s nuclear modernization plans, the most destabilizing are probably the new, low-yield nuclear options and dual-capable systems that may be ambiguously nuclear or conventional.
The USS Alabama, a US ballistic submarine. Credit: US Navy via Wikimedia Commons.

Invisible nuclear-armed submarines, or transparent oceans? Are ballistic missile submarines still the best deterrent for the United States?

The question of whether submarines are getting harder to hide depends very much on whose submarines you’re talking about, who’s hunting them, and where.
Credit: Illustration by Matt Field. Based on photo by CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

How the next nuclear arms race will be different from the last one

New non-nuclear weapon technologies – such as ballistic missile defense, anti-satellite weapons, and precision-strike missile technology – will make nuclear deterrence relationships that were once somewhat stable less so.
Credit: Shutterstock.

Cyberattacks on Russia—the nation with the most nuclear weapons—pose a global threat

Russia has experienced a number of cyberattacks in recent years. Such attacks could pose a risk to the command and control system for its nuclear weapons.
The French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle. Credit: US Navy via Wikimedia Commons.

French nuclear forces, 2019

France's stockpile of approximately 300 warheads has remained stable in recent years, but significant modernizations are underway with regard to ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, submarines, aircraft, and the nuclear industrial complex.

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