Proposals for deep reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal have been made periodically over the past four decades. Almost always, the proposals promote a doctrine known as “minimum deterrence.”
The main premise that the case for minimum deterrence rests on is threefold: U.S. nuclear capability does not deter terrorists; Russia and China are no longer enemies and the United States no longer needs nuclear weapons to deter them; and, for deterrence purposes, U.S. advanced conventional forces increasingly can substitute for nuclear forces. Therefore, a relatively small number of U.S. nuclear weapons is adequate for deterrence and we can reduce to hundreds or even a few dozen without jeopardizing national security. Deep reductions, it is asserted, will reduce nuclear dangers, advance U.S. arms-control and nonproliferation goals, and save billions of dollars.