Understanding Nuclear Forces

Professors: Bennett/Quinlivan
Units: 0.5
Elective Course
Concentration: Policy Analysis

In recent years, there has been considerable debate about the U.S. requirements for nuclear weapons. In particular, President Obama seeks a world without nuclear weapons, and is anxious to reduce U.S. nuclear capabilities in moving toward that objective and in trying to reduce U.S. military expenditures. So we must ask: What are U.S. requirements for nuclear weapons? To answer this question, this course will begin looking at the effects of nuclear weapons and how they can be assessed. It will then look at the different types of delivery means for nuclear weapons and their implications for achieving damage to opposing targets. The particular development pathways recent nuclear weapon aspirants have taken will be examined with the implications for how they acquire, weaponize, and posture nuclear forces for their strategic purposes. The course will conclude by examining nuclear deterrence in both theory and 21st-century practice.