Cheryl Rofer called for national security/ foreign policy/defense bloggers to think hard regarding the strategic calculus of a state possessing just a few nuclear weapons:
What strategies are available to a country with fissionable material sufficient for 1-5 nuclear weapons, some of which may be assembled? Take into account probable responses, and assume some sort of rationality on the holders of these weapons and material. You may specifically refer to Iran and North Korea, or any other nation, or make the scenario(s) more general. Flesh out the scenario with some support
Many have answered the call ( I am still working on my response) and here they are with key excerpts:
….Therefore, we will pursue a four-fold strategy we call “Deterrence Light”:
1. INTERNAL SECURITY: Ensure the secrecy of our fissile material. Maximize employment of decoys and spoofs so as to preserve this material should it ever be needed….
2. EXTERNAL AWARENESS: Inform the world of our technological accomplishment — and embed in our announcements disinformation regarding the exact disposition of our research establishment and weapons complexes….
….Yesterday, the Iraqi Kurds announced the formation of a Kurdish confederation, minutes after introducing shocked IAEA officials inspecting Turkish nuclear facilities to a mountain bunker where two nuclear warheads (one loaded on a hybrid American-Israeli missile) were housed. Iraqi Kurdistan leaders informed the Iraqi government they were joining a Kurdish confederation but were not (as of this moment) interested in seceding entirely from Iraq. Revenues would continue to be shared as previously agreed and Kurdish units would be available to defend Iraq against Iranian aggression. Iranian Kurdish leaders explained their position to the Supreme Leader of Iran and noted targeting of Tehran and Iranian oil fields by several nuclear devices was existent. The Syrians were equally appraised of their own prime real estate being targeted
….Next, I will want to develop an indigenous capability. I won’t let any Proliferation Security Initiatives stop valuable material shipments. My engineers and scientists will train in the best universities overseas as I develop my “nuclear technology” program, which will have the purpose of supplying my people with limitless, inexpensive electricity to power their homes. Now the United States and European nations will offer me low-enriched uranium, and that will do – for starters. Once I get the nuclear technology program, I’ll build a second reactor and centrifuges for the HEU processing.
Dreaming 5GW (Arherring)
…. The 5GW Strategy: Ironically, even though the 4GW Operation benefits from more weapons being available, the 5GW strategy only requires one (and with the proper preparation you might even be able to get away with none, but that’s an advanced class). Essentially, the objective is to prove the potential of multiple weapons by openly displaying the existence of at least one weapon. Should you possess only two, one should be test-detonated and the other should be openly displayed to an authority that can realiably vouch for its authenticity. This very controlled transparency is a 5GW affect on observation that triggers existing assumptions, rule-sets and responses both in countries that are targeted and in countries that are merely in the audience