Time to Internationlize the Dialogue on Nuclear Armed Cruise Missiles

A new dialogue is emerging in national security circles on what President Obama may do to advance his nuclear weapons policies in his final year in office. Much of the conversation is centered on Obama halting or delaying investment in a new nuclear-armed cruise missile (now called the long-range standoff cruise missile, or LRSO) in his next budget, as former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry and others have recommended. These nuclear weapons are under particular scrutiny due to several concerns. These include budgetary considerations, the destabilizing effect when a recipient country cannot know whether a cruise missile headed its way is nuclear or conventional, and the opportunity for the United States to help steer other countries away from building their own nuclear-armed cruise missiles.

While this public debate on the LRSO is in a relatively early stage, now is the time to begin working to internationalize the dialogue. American decisions on the future nuclear deterrent must account for the probable reactions of our international partners — in particular, countries that depend on the U.S. nuclear deterrent as a key component of their national security.

This article was originally published in War on the Rocks.