It is not a good idea to mix and match nuclear and non-nuclear weapon systems. What are the risks, and why are countries still doing it?
Nonnuclear weapons are increasingly able to threaten dual-use command, control, communication, and intelligence assets that are spaced based or distant from probable theaters of conflict.
The risk of an inadvertent nuclear war is rising because of the entanglement of non-nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons and their command-and-control capabilities.
Nuclear command, control, communication, and intelligence (C3I) systems are becoming increasingly vulnerable to nonnuclear attack, presenting significant escalation and entanglement challenges.
With the threat of nuclear war growing, China, Russia, and the United States should not wait until political relations improve before making efforts to manage new technologies.
The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review includes a threat to consider using nuclear weapons if an adversary attacks U.S. command and control capabilities.
Acton holds the Jessica T. Mathews Chair and is co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Li is a senior fellow working jointly in the Nuclear Policy Program and Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Tong Zhao is a fellow in Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Program based at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy.