Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 - Faculty of Law

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The Nuclear Sea-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM-N): Implication for U.S. nuclear strategy and arms control

Par Douglas Rocha

Abstract

In May 2021, soon after taking office, the Biden administration confirmed the decision to fund the NucleaSea-launched Cruise Missile (SLCM-N), one of the most controversial programs of Donald Trump’s term. The decision was received with surprise by some analysts: Joseph Biden had argued against this new weapon during his campaign. Finally, after considerable discussion within the government and the armed forces, the Democratic administration appears to have reconsidered its decision and canceled the SLCM-N program.

In anticipation of the NPR 2022, which is expected to be unveiled in the near future, the cancellation of SLCM-N can be interpreted as an indication of the Biden administration’s approach to nuclear strategy. A couple of central questions remain. What are the implications of this decision for U.S. nuclear strategy? Which American institutions are involved in this strategic debate? Beyond the United States itself, what international tendencies will these decisions promote in terms of arms control and nuclear risk reduction?

About the Author

Research fellow at the Institute for Strategic and Defense Studies (IESD) for studies on nuclear arms control and ballistic non-proliferation. Former Research assistant at the Brazilian Center for Strategy and International Relations (NERINT). He holds a Master's degree in International Security and Defense from the University Jean Moulin (Lyon, France) and a Bachelor's degree in International Relations from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre, Brazil).

The strategic debate underway in Washington is only the consequence of a deeper evolving process of nuclear deterrence that gradually integrates other military domains. The other side of the coin, arms control must also be adapted to the new strategic conditions in order to remain a meaningful instrument in diplomatic relations.

Douglas Rocha
5 to 7 kt
It is the yield of the nuclear warheads developed by the United States during the last decade to renew its tactical nuclear arsenal
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