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Nuclear Weapons & Nuclear Deterrence

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Todd Robinson UIUC

on 10 December 2013

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Transcript of Nuclear Weapons & Nuclear Deterrence

Nuclear Weapons & Nuclear Deterrence
Nuclear Testing since 1945
Nuclear Weapons 101
Can be categorized by their fuel source
their design
Boosted Fission
Fusion (two-stage)
or their altitude
Surface Burst
Air Burst
Subsurface Burst
High Altitude Burst
Uranium Bombs
First used in the Trinity test in 1945 and then for Hiroshima
U-238 naturally occurring and in great abundance
Only U-235 is usable in the production of nuclear weapons
Uranium must be enriched
2% Natural Uranium
3-19% Low Enriched Uranium
20-90% Highly Enriched Uranium
>90% Weapons Grade Uranium
Need a significant quantity (SQ) to sustain a chain reaction
25 kg
Gun Type Device

Plutonium Bombs
First used on Nagasaki
Plutonium produced as a byproduct of the irradiation of uranium
Produced in some amount in virtually every nuclear reactor
Any isotope of plutonium can be used in the production of nuclear weapons (US proved this)
P-239 most valued because of its low spontaneous fission rate
Implosion type devices
12 kg for an SQ

Nuclear Explosions 101
What is a nuclear explosion?
A rapid exponentially increasing release of energy resulting from the fissioning of fissile material
Fissile material is any element capable of fissioning when subject to relatively low values of energy.
Dates of First
Nuclear Tests
USA - 1945
USSR - 1949
UK - 1952
France - 1960
China - 1964
India - 1974
Pakistan - 1998
North Korea - 2006

Israel &
South Africa
1979? (the
Vela Incident)
Elements of A Nuclear Explosion
50% of the energy is in the blast
35% as thermal radiation; made up of a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum, including infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light and some soft x-ray emitted at the time of the explosion
15% as nuclear radiation; including 5% as initial ionizing radiation consisting chiefly of neutrons and gamma rays emitted within the first minute after detonation, and 10% as residual nuclear radiation. Residual nuclear radiation is the hazard in fallout.
Altitude (and why it matters)
Air Burst
Above ground level, below 30km
Maximizes blast effects and dispersion of radiation
Surface Burst
Fireball touches ground, causes "fallout," radiation highly localized and intense, highly affected by wind patterns
Subsurface Burst
Highly localized, create large craters, extreme fallout
High Altitude Burst
Fireball expands much more rapidly, can cause extensive damage to communication and electrical systems
Boosted Fission Device

Fusion Device
Also called a two-stage device
Consists of Primary and Secondary
Most conducive for miniaturization
Necessary for higher yields
Virtually no limit to max yield (tzar bomba - 50MT)
Nuclear Arsenals
USA, USSR/Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine
Approximately 5,113 nuclear warheads, including tactical, strategic, and nondeployed weapons. According to the latest official New START declaration, the United States deploys 1,654 strategic nuclear warheads on 792 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers
Approximately 1,480 deployed strategic warheads. The Federation of American Scientists estimates Russia has another 1,022 nondeployed strategic warheads and approximately 2,000 tactical nuclear warheads. Additional thousands are awaiting dismantlement.
Other States
China: About 240 total warheads.
France: Fewer than 300 operational warheads.
United Kingdom: Fewer than 160 deployed strategic warheads, total stockpile of up to 225.
India: Up to 100 nuclear warheads.
Israel: Between 75 to 200 nuclear warheads.
Pakistan: Between 90 to 110 nuclear warheads.
Nuclear Weapons & War
(Early Contributors to Nuclear Strategy)
Bernard Brodie
"Thus far the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars. From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them." (1946)
One of the foremost strategists on the use of nuclear weapons in war
Worked at the RAND corporation
Utilized game theory to study nuclear war
Published "On Thermonuclear War" (1960)
Herman Kahn
Thomas Schelling
Wrote seminal texts "The Strategy of Conflict" (1960) and "Arms and Influence" (1966)
Argued that conflicts are bargaining situations
Introduced the "brinkmanship" game
Introduced the logic of deterrence
Argued that the goal of war was no longer defeat your enemy, but to be able to threaten their destruction regardless of victory

Nuclear Deterrence Strategy
Deterrence is trying to stop a foe from taking a certain action; it is passive and cedes initiative to the opponent
Requires 2 things: capability and credibility of commitment (and the communication of this commitment)
Compellence, by contrast, is more active, and typically involves administering punishment until the adversary acts, rather than if he acts.
Tactical vs. Strategic Nukes
1st vs. 2nd Strike

Nuclear Deterrence
Nuclear Deterrence is simultaneously:
a strategy
a policy
and a theory
Nuclear Deterrence Policy
Actions to achieve the predicted effects of deterrence theory, including:
Force deployment
Platform diversity and redundancy
Command and control
Widespread variation in deterrence policy
Massive retaliation
Flexible response
Minimal deterrence
Nuclear Deterrence Theory
Numerous versions of deterrence theory exist
Originated with Herman Kahn, Thomas Schelling, Albert Wohstetter (mostly at the RAND corporation)
Each country had their own particular version, some similar, some not

Kahn's 3 Types
Type I deterrence as “deterrence against a direct attack” (1960; 126)
Type II deterrence as “using strategic threats to deter an enemy from engaging in very provocative acts, other than a direct attack on the United States itself” (1960)
Type III, or “tit-for-tat” deterrence, he defines as “graduated,” or “controlled” deterrence, and “refers to acts that are deterred because the potential aggressor is afraid that the defender or others will then take limited actions, military or nonmilitary, that will make the aggression profitable” (1960; 126).
Other Forms
General Deterrence - Deterring aggresive action in general against yourself or an ally, aka strategic deterrence
Immediate Deterrence - Deterring specific instances of aggression
Extended Deterrence (both general and immediate forms) - Deterring aggresive action against an ally
Does Deterrence Deter?
Was the Cold War cold only because nuclear weapons existed?
Mueller - "Essential Irrelevance" argument
Consequences of Deterrence
Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
Stability-Instability Paradox
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