At the end of the Obama administration, a fragile bipartisan consensus had emerged with regard to U.S. nuclear weapons policy. Under the terms of this agreement—memorialized in the U.S. Senate’s resolution to ratify the New START Treaty in 2010—arms control advocates agreed to fund the modernization of the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent in exchange for deterrence advocates supporting nuclear arms control. However, in the Trump era, that consensus is fraying. Many arms control advocates are now calling for cancelling key strategic modernization systems like the Long-Range Stand-Off (LRSO) nuclear cruise missile and the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) intercontinental ballistic missile. On the other hand, some deterrence advocates are seriously questioning whether that United States should extend New START. Given this increasing polarization, is it possible to maintain the existing consensus on U.S. nuclear weapons policy?
On January 7, 2019, the Foreign Policy program at Brookings hosted a discussion involving experts and former government officials to explore this question. Following their conversation, panelists took audience questions.
PanelistRebecca Hersman Director of the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) - Center for Strategic and International StudiesMadelyn R. Creedon Nonresident Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and TechnologyJohn R. Harvey Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs - Department of DefenseMatthew Kroenig Professor - Georgetown University, Deputy Director of The Scowcroft Center - Atlantic Council