New Report Released at Carnegie Conference
As America intensifies its war against nuclear proliferation, a report to be issued on Thursday challenges claims that the United States needs new nuclear weapons to fight rogue states armed with weapons of mass destruction. The report will be released by the Carnegie Endowment at the annual Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference on November 14, and is authored by physicist Michael Levi from the Federation of American Scientists.
The Bush Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, leaked earlier this year, advocates new nuclear weapons designed to destroy underground bunkers and to neutralize caches of chemical and biological weapons. Levi presents a new way forward, explaining how, by pursuing innovative non-nuclear weapons and intelligence systems, America can develop the weapons it needs while maintaining its coalitions against proliferation. These alliances would be endangered if America chose to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons.
"New nuclear weapons would deliver, at best, marginal improvements in U.S. military capabilities, while undermining America’s alliances against nuclear proliferation." said Levi. "We are focusing narrowly on destructive power," argued Levi, "whereas we should really be worrying about the utility of these weapons." Levi encouraged policymakers to think about how to integrate new weapons into battlefield strategy, "A nuclear weapon may be able to destroy a deep bunker, but its radioactive fallout will likely place large parts of the battlefield off limits to American warfighters. Non-nuclear weapons remove that problem." He added, "Developing new nuclear weapons at a time when nuclear non-proliferation is so central to U.S. security is questionable... This is especially true when in most cases equally effective non-nuclear options exist for the proposed missions."
Joseph Cirincione, conference chair and the director of Carnegie’s Non-Proliferation Project noted that, "This debate will likely heat up in the new Congress. But proponents of new nuclear weapons have presented a false choice between either developing their new designs or allowing rogue leaders to hide from American forces. This study shows there's a third, more practical way to enhance U.S. national security." In addition to informing the debate over new nuclear weapons, the report’s comprehensive review of non-nuclear technologies will be of great interest to anyone addressing weapons that might be used in a war with Iraq.