WASHINGTON DC: Thursday, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a new report, Long Shadows: Deterrence in a Multipolar Nuclear Age, from authors Stacie Pettyjohn, senior fellow and director of the Defense Program, and Jennie Matuschak, former research assistant in the Defense Program. The report examines the nuclear policies and postures of the United States and its three primary nuclear adversaries: China, Russia, and North Korea.
“For the first time, the United States faces two nuclear-armed great powers as well as a nuclear-armed regional adversary that it seeks to deter from attacking not only the U.S. homeland, but also its allies,” write the authors. “Although the fundamental tenets of deterrence and tools like arms control remain unchanged, the current and future situation is more complex and challenging than the Cold War.”
The report includes deta-iled analyses on the nuclear profiles of the U.S., Russia, China, and North Korea, along with an assessment of the nuclear capabilities of each of the countries relative to each other.
The report concludes by providing five policy recommendations based on the key findings. These recommendations are as follows:
The Biden administration should maintain current U.S. declaratory policy and implement existing modernization plans for the U.S. triad and nuclear infrastructure.
The Department of Defense should renew its focus on nuclear deterrence as a part of its strategy of integrated deterrence.
The United States should take steps to strengthen deterrence and crisis stability against North Korea.
The DoD must study escalation risks across a range of conventional and conflict scenarios with China, Russia, and North Korea to understand likely flashpoints and red lines.
The United States should pursue strategic dialogues with China and Russia and establish communication links and crisis mechanisms to avoid misperception and inadvertent escalation.
The United States maintains a large but aging inventory of nuclear delivery systems across the air, land, and undersea dom-ains. For three decades, the US has deferred modernizing its nuclear weapons or acquiring new delivery systems, and now many of these systems are reaching the end of their planned service lives. As a consequence, the entire triad and nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) system simultaneously need to be recapitalized.
In addition to modernizing traditional nuclear weapons, Putin has publicly highlighted the development of a range of “no-vel” nuclear delivery systems, including hypersonic weapons, a nuclear-powered cruise missile (Bure-vestnik), and a nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle (Poseidon).
Of these, Russia has made the most progress in hypersonics. The Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile has been deployed since 2018 on MiG-31Ks, while the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) was first deployed in 2019 and two SS-19 (UR-100) regiments are now equipped with it.
Lagging only slightly behind is the Tsirkon (3M-22, SS-N-33) antiship hyp-ersonic cruise missile inten-ded for ships and submari-nes, which was successfully tested in 2020 and 2021 and is expected to enter production in 2022.