zenpundit.com » Blog Archive » Nuclear Blog Tank

Nuclear Blog Tank

Cheryl Rofer of Whirledview has called for a blog tank on the strategic question of countries with just a few nuclear weapons:

Blog Tank: National Strategy for a Few Nuclear Weapons

Herman Kahn worked out the strategies for massive nuclear exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Both the United States and Russia are now disassembling their nuclear weapons, rather than building more. The nations that have tens or hundreds of nuclear weapons are looking fairly peaceful lately; even India and Pakistan seem to have achieved their own version of the balance of terror. Terrorists don’t seem to have any nukes hidden away yet.

So the danger is that a nation will break out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty with a few nukes. This is a very different problem from the one Kahn addressed.

The last country to face an analogous situation was the United States at the end of World War II. By the time it had tested an implosion device at Alamogordo, New Mexico, and dropped weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was out of atomic bombs and fissionable materials. Truman bluffed for the several years it took to build some tens of nuclear weapons.

That was, of course, when no other nations had nuclear weapons.

Andy at Nuclear Mangoes reminded me over the weekend of my irritation that nobody has addressed the strategy of one to a few nuclear weapons. That’s a different problem than something in the range of 5-10, which is a different problem from a higher number. None of these have been addressed systematically for today’s world.

So let’s have a blog tank. Anyone who wants to participate should post a scenario (or scenarios) on their blog or, if you don’t have a blog, in the comments to this post. Here is the problem I want to address:

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.

I envision a next step after the scenarios have been presented, perhaps a mutual critique, but I am open to suggestions on that next step. Let’s keep this first round to scenario development.

I’ll pull things together, as I did the last time around. I won’t try to reconcile one scenario with another, although I may note similarities.

Deadline for scenarios: July 18.

This is a great idea. I see that Shane has already responded but I will look more closely at his post here on Sunday.

2 Responses to “Nuclear Blog Tank”

  1. Two Scenarios For A Small But Fierce Nuclear Capability « Hidden Unities Says:

    […] Two Scenarios For A Small But Fierce Nuclear Capability In response to the esteemed Cheryl Rofer’s call for a small nuclear capability blog tank, I humbly offer two scenarios of sorts. (H/T Zenpundit) […]

  2. Blog Tank: National Strategy for a Few Nuclear Weapons - 5GW « Red Herrings Says:

    […] An Interesting puzzle for 5GW thinking. (Hat tip: Zenpundit) […]

Switch to our mobile site