The Center for Global Security Research (CGSR) sponsored this seminar entitled “Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Critical Capability or a Missile in Search of a Mission?” on July 4, 2014, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The seminar was presented by James M. Acton, a senior associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment.
The United States has spent 10 years and a billion dollars on a weapon that has no defined mission. And in the meantime, American research and development efforts have prompted Russia and China to pursue similar weapons of their own that could be deployed in as little as a decade, starting an arms race that could place the continental United States at risk. In theory, these three powers could agree to avoid such competition. In practice, the prospects for mutual restraint seem extremely dim.
The United States should not risk escalating a conflict with a nuclear-armed power unless it has no other option. But if it doesn’t hurry up and find a policy to guide its rapidly advancing technology, it may simply glide into catastrophe.
Acton is a physicist by training, specializing in deterrence, disarmament, nonproliferation, and nuclear energy. His current research focuses on the implications of next-generation conventional weapons for both the nuclear disarmament process and international security more broadly.
Coming CGSR events:
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here do not represent LLNL or the U.S. government.