U.S. Strategic Nuclear Policy Toward China


ISCS has been awarded a second grant by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to continue its study of U.S. nuclear policy toward China.  China’s modernization and expansion of its strategic nuclear and conventional forces create an array of new questions and difficult policy challenges for the United States.  The ISCS project identifies the key emerging nuclear issues, and the related set of conventional strategy issues, and analyzes them fully.

During the first phase of the ISCS study, project members explored an array of central issues, including: how Chinese analysts view the threat that U.S. forces pose to their nuclear retaliatory capability; whether the United States should pursue a damage limitation capability against China’s nuclear forces; how Chinese analysts view the threat that U.S. forces pose to their conventional capabilities; whether the United States will be able to retain its ability to project power into Northeast Asia; the changing requirements for the United States to extend deterrence to its Northeast Asian allies and the related challenge of preserving U.S. alliances as China rises; and whether U.S. conventional military operations are likely to generate pressures for nuclear escalation.  A set of policy briefs that summarizes the results of this study is available here. The briefs summarize research articles written as part of the project, a number of which have been published or are forthcoming in the journal International Security and are available here.

The second phase of the ISCS study will address a variety of issues that follow naturally from its earlier work, including: the reasons that Chinese strategists are optimistic that nuclear weapons would not be used in a conventional war between the United States and China; the nuclear doctrine the United States should adopt for extended deterrence to its Northeast Asian allies; the factors that will determine the outcome of modern naval warfare between great powers; Japanese perspectives on the requirements for stability as China continues to modernize its nuclear forces; possible solutions to the escalatory dangers created by U.S. conventional operations; and the domestic political constraints that might influence U.S. military policies for responding to China’s rise. 


Charles Glaser will lead the second project. Other ISCS affiliated faculty members participating in the project are Stephen BiddleAlexander Downes, Mike Mochizuki, Elizabeth Saunders, and Caitlin Talmadge.