Nuclear Weapons: Asked and Answered

James’s post on Sen. Barack Obama’s announced proposal for eliminating nuclear weapons certainly raised a number of questions in my mind. Below I’ll give you a sample of some of the questions that came to mind and my answers. Please provide your own answers in the comments.

Should we reduce the size of our nuclear stockpile?

My answer: yes. The estimates I’ve seen on the size of our arsenal is something around 10,000 or the low teens. That’s enough to satisfy the requirements of deterrence several times over. Storing them is costly, presents a security risk, and, as James noted, some are obsolete and won’t be used in any event.

Is deterrence still relevant?

My answer: sadly, yes. I even think that the Iranian and North Korean regimes are deterrable (including selling or giving nuclear weapons to third parties) but it will take more steel than we’ve shown lately to do. As I’ve said repeatedly over at my place, I think that the current crop of politicians is recklessly undermining deterrence as a strategy.

Should we eliminate our nuclear weapons, either unilaterally or multilaterally?

My answer: sadly, no. See above for the reasons.

Is Russia likely to eliminate its nuclear arsenal whether we do or not?

My answer: frankly, I doubt it. The nationalistic and nostalgic direction in which the Russians seem to be moving would appear to preclude that alternative.

Which nuclear weapons present the greatest security risk?

My answer: Pakistan’s.

Is there anything that can be done about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons?

My answer: probably not. I do think we need something along the lines of the doctrine that Kennedy pronounced during the Cuban missile crisis.

Don’t our present policies just encourage rogue states to pursue nuclear weapons?

My answer: they’d do it without our encouragement. It’s not just our nuclear weapons that encourages other states to pursue nuclear weapons. They want nuclear weapons to deter our conventional forces, too. Since total unilateral disarmament is probably not on, they’ll keep right on pursuing them.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Triumph says:

    Obama is a typical peacenik liberal. It is clear that Iran has a nuclear bomb and is going to use it–very soon.

    We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud. The only answer to the Defeat-ocrat attitude of B. Hussein Obama is to bomb Iran now before they get us.

    If we occupy both Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, we could easily invade Russia and bring peace to the world. Freedom will then march over the Axis of Evil.

    It will be pretty difficult with terror-sympathizing cowards like B. Hussein running around the country spewing nonsense.

  2. Tlaloc says:

    Which nuclear weapons present the greatest security risk?

    My answer: Pakistan’s.

    No kidding. I have a general rule- any day “Pakistan” shows up in a headline I’m going to need some Tums.

  3. spencer says:

    Currently about half of the fuel for the domestic nuclear electricity industry comes from decommissioned Soviet nuclear weapons.

    But the US and the Russians are both starting to
    build new nuclear electric plants for the first time in decades. Because the Russians will need the fuel from decommissioning weapons they have told us that they will not renew the treaty when it expires in 2012.

    So we now face an interesting situation where about half of the existing supply of nuclear fuels will vanish just at the time demand will increase sharply. Moreover, prospects for new supplies from other sources, even at significantly higher prices are very poor.

    So we start decommissioning our own nuclear weapons to supply fuel for our electricity industry?