BRIEFER: The Next Great Idea in Arms Control – An End to Nuclear Sea-Launched Cruise Missiles

By Jasmine Owens

As the U.S. navigates a new era with rapidly rising Chinese influence, and the deterioration of relations with Russia and China continues to destabilize an already fragile international security environment, reinvigorating nuclear arms control is imperative. Doing so does not require a uniquely complex idea. Rather, we can turn our focus to previous efforts that have worked in the past, and expand upon them to effectively respond to today’s nuanced security environment.

Enter nuclear submarine-launched cruise missiles, or SLCM-N for short. SLCM-N are controversial for many reasons — the main criticism being that they lower the threshold for nuclear use and increase the risk of a nuclear conflict breaking out.

In March 2021, two members of Congress – Maryland senator Chris Van Hollen and Connecticut House member Joe Courtney, announced a bill that would prohibit any action taken by the US government to research, develop, produce and deploy SLCM-N. Such a proposal is not far-fetched. President George H.W. Bush already withdrew the U.S.’ previous SLCM-N and put them into storage in 1991, and President Obama formally retired and dismantled them in 2011. 

In a new briefer published by Council on Strategic Risks (CSR), CSR goes further to provide a strategic framework to establish an international coalition in order to achieve an end to these dangerous weapons and reinvigorate international nuclear arms control.

Read the full briefer below.


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