The long-held U.S. goal of striking distant targets with non-nuclear weapons in just minutes has always been controversial. In the current fiscal environment, however, an impending decision to acquire Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS) weapons will be especially hotly debated. While the conversation surrounding CPGS has largely focused on one particular risk—the possibility of Russia’s misinterpreting a prompt conventional weapon as nuclear-armed—the program raises a much broader set of issues that merit debate, from the need to respond to adverse changes in the security environment to the management of escalation in a serious conflict.

James M. Acton examined the big picture by exploring the full range of questions—military, strategic, technological, and financial—raised by CPGS. The discussion also marked the release of Acton’s new report Silver Bullet? Asking the Right Questions About Conventional Prompt Global Strike. George Perkovich moderated.

Copies of the report were available.

James M. Acton

James M. Acton is a senior associate in the Carnegie Nuclear Policy Program. A physicist by training, Acton specializes in deterrence, disarmament, nonproliferation, and nuclear energy. His current research focuses on the implications of next-generation conventional weapons for both the nuclear disarmament process and international security more broadly.

George Perkovich

George Perkovich is vice president for studies and director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His research focuses on nuclear strategy and nonproliferation, with a concentration on South Asia, Iran, and the problem of justice in the international political economy.