Slouching Towards Zero: Considering U.S. Nuclear Weapons Programs and Policy

Since the 1960s the United States has operationally deployed nearly all its strategic nuclear forces in a Triad of delivery systems comprising land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs); submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs); and bombs and cruise missiles delivered by aircraft. In 2010, coincident with the New START negotiations, the Obama administration presented a plan to modernize each component of the Triad, starting development of a new submarine around 2016, sequencing through new land-based ICBMs and a new bomber, and concluding with a new submarine-launched ballistic missile around 2040. The first of the new submarines is expected to be operational around 2030 and be serviceable for about 40 years, which might suggest the next modernization wave would begin sometime in the 2070s.

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