Nonproliferation Expert Tierney Calls Trump Nuclear Push ‘Dangerous and Unnecessary’

Executive Director John Tierney spoke with The Diplomat about global arms control and non-proliferation issues.

The Diplomat: From observation, does adding or enhancing nuclear capabilities actually deter ‘bad behavior’ by countries?

TierneyNo. It just encourages more arms racing.

The Diplomat: Let’s talk about technicalities. Can you describe what the push to develop smaller nukes is yielding in terms of new and developing technologies — their size, cost, amount of damage they can do, how long it will take to develop them, etc.?

TierneySmaller nuclear weapons were originally developed for battlefield use. Military planners in the Cold War then came to their senses, understanding that a nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon, no matter the yield. After all, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was technically a low-yield nuclear weapon. They may be smaller than today’s standard deployed strategic weapon, but they are still city destroyers.

The Trump administration is currently pushing for a low-yield variant to the Trident submarine-launched missile. Congress is close to authorizing the creation of that weapon and approving the funds for it. The new warhead could be fitted on a missile within a couple years. There are considerable reasons not to go down this path, destabilization being but one. Read more