Fourth Generation Nuclear Weapons: Russia, Arms Control, and Challenges to the Deterrence Paradigm

This piece was written by Major Lorin D. Veigas and Major C. D. Gunter.

In a reversed dynamic from the early Cold War years in which the United States emphasized its nuclear stockpile against a superior Soviet threat, Russia now seeks to counter NATO superiority by bolstering its nuclear capability and adjusting its nuclear use doctrine. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review states as much by highlighting the challenging strategic operating environment the United States is now placed in, noting that while the United States has worked for several decades to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in foreign policy, other nations, including Russia, have done the opposite.[1] One emerging but realistic technology that Russia may be inclined to develop, which could offer significant military advantages and disrupt existing deterrence and arms control paradigms, is low-yield, pure fusion fourth generation nuclear weapons (FGNWs). This new class of weapons could be designed with a highly-tailorable range of yields and would produce significantly less residual radiation and collateral damage, making them well-suited for close integration with maneuver forces in regional conflicts…

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​This piece was republished from the Fletcher Security Review.

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