In the recent American military
engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, some American tacticians were
frustrated by the military’s limited ability to destroy heavily
fortified targets. Conventional explosives did not have the
ability to penetrate meters of earth, concrete, and steel
fortification. In response, some American policymakers have
suggested that the United States begin to develop a new generation of
low-yield nuclear weapons. These weapons would be able to destroy
targets which are impervious to conventional weapons, yet would not
have the wholesale destructive power of traditional nuclear
weapons. Opponents argue that low-yield weapons would be far more
likely to be used than existing weapons. Were the United States
to use a low-yield weapon against, say, a command-and-control bunker,
it would end the 60-year prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons and
encourage other nations to do the same in their own conflicts.
Other critics are concerned that the mere development and manufacture
of such weapons would undermine the United States’ effort to stop
In your report, you should address the specific issue of low-yield
nuclear weapons. This is not a paper about nuclear weapons in
general, nor is it about American foreign policy. You may address
these issues as they relate to low-yield nuclear weapons.
Consider and try to answer the following questions: Are low-yield
weapons necessary to American national security? Will American
commanders need such weapons in our next major military
engagement? Would they hurt or strengthen America’s standing in
the international community? What would be the consequences of
using a low-yield nuclear device? I have given you a list of
potential websites with which to begin your research. Keep in
mind that many of them are not entirely objective.
Paper from Princeton University
former Air Force general
from the Journal of the Federation of American Scientists
of legislative action regarding low-yield weapons.
by anti-nuclear activist group
congressional debate about low-yield weapons.
about a new proposed earth-penetrating weapon, with links.
about collateral damage caused by earth-penetrating weapons.
from National Review
from Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists