January 2020

January 2020 bulletin of the atomic scientists magazine cover nuclear weapons united states president election

Cover design by Thomas Gaulkin. Party mascots courtesy Donkey Hotey via Creative Commons.

In this issue, top experts lay out the nuclear issue that we all should ask presidential candidates before the November election. The entire issue is free-access until March 31, 2020.



A Minuteman III missile crew on alert.

Why nuclear weapons should be a major focus of the 2020 campaign

When it comes to media covering the US presidential election campaign, discussion of nuclear policy seldom happens, and when it does break out, the level of intelligence and sophistication involved is often wanting.
Alexandra Bell

What the presidential candidates should be asked about arms control and nonproliferation

The next president will have to deal with many pressing questions, but few are as consequential as this one: Do we want to live in a world in which the number of nuclear weapons is going up or going down?
John Holdren

The overwhelming case for no first use

The arguments in favor of the United States’ declaring that the only purpose of its nuclear weapons is to deter others – in other words, that in no circumstances will this country use nuclear weapons first – are far stronger than the arguments against this stance.
James N. Miller

No to no first use—for now

The United States should continue to work to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy with a long-term aim of shifting to a no-first-use policy; the question should not be whether, but under what conditions to make such a shift.
Bruce Blair

Loose cannons: The president and US nuclear posture

The US president’s unfettered authority to order the use of nuclear weapons and an unstable US nuclear posture create a compound existential risk that must be reduced.
Brad Roberts

It’s time to jettison Nuclear Posture Reviews

The existing architecture of Pentagon policy and posture reviews has failed to deliver the needed responses to the new strategic environment. A different approach is needed.

Cool your jets: Some perspective on the hyping of hypersonic weapons

Many of the claims made for hypersonic weapons are overstated, and much of what they can do could be accomplished more easily and cheaply using better-established technology.
Minuteman III missile in silo

United States nuclear forces, 2020

The US nuclear arsenal remained roughly unchanged in the last year, with the Defense Department maintaining an estimated stockpile of approximately 3,800 warheads. Of these, only 1,750 warheads are deployed.

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