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Could a Strong Deterrence Posture Keep Putin From Launching a Nuclear Attack?

Peter Huessy, Senior Warrior Maven Nuclear Weapons Analyst discusses why deterrence may be the best solution to prevent nuclear war

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President - Center for Military Modernization

Hello and welcome to warrior Maven, the Center for military modernization very significant conversation today in light of the nuclear threat posed by Putin and the Russian military. Sure enough, the forces were not only put on alert, but there have been even more recent threats, of course, along with the use of hypersonic weapons it for the first time ever, here to talk about this as a very gifted expert, Mr. Peter Huessy. He is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and also has his own consultancy GeoStrategic Analysis, Mr. Huessy, thank you so much for your expertise.

Peter Huessy, Senior Warrior Maven Nuclear Weapons Analyst

Thank you, Kris, for inviting me. It's an honor to talk with you today.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President - Center for Military Modernization

Could Putin hold the world hostage with this nuclear threat? And should that even be possible? It calls to mind something I know you've been tracking for several years as well, 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. I remember former Secretary Mattis speaking on the Hill, telling members of Congress look, we are asking for low yield nuclear weapons, not because we want or intend to use them. But to bring Russia back to the negotiating table to let those in power who have decision making authority have the widest possible contingency of deterrence options available to them. And of course, that we get a call for a submarine launched nuclear armed cruise missile and lower yield variants of the Trident II D-5, as well as other potential avenues of adding options to commanders. What's your sense of that?

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Peter Huessy, Senior Warrior Maven Nuclear Weapons Analyst

Well, the D-5 Low-Yield weapon we have deployed, the numbers are probably in the low single digits. Maybe a dozen, I don't know what the number is actually. But it is deployed. And this administration was persuaded not to get rid of it. There is money research and development money for the cruise missile for the Navy, low yield to be launched either from surface ships or submarines. That's not built yet. It was in our inventory. Two administrations back under Mr. Obama, but he took it out and deleted it similar to what George Bush 41 did, at the end of the Cold War, we got rid of all our tactical nuclear weapons aboard all our ships, all our army battlefield weapons in Europe. And we have 1000s, as did the Soviets. And we just got rid of them. 

And so we're, we're basically down at least 10 to one, Russia has at least 2000 of these tactical nuclear weapons. And as I said, Mark Snyder and Steve Blank two Russian experts, as well as three Chinese experts I heard from just the other day and Hudson, Gordon Chang, Brad Thayer, and Rick Fisher. All five of these people recommended that we do a triad of regional theater systems, cruise missiles for the Navy. We have, we have airplanes, and then INF Treaty is gone. So we can do missiles with that range. And we can make them nuclear arms similar to what we deployed under President Reagan, the Persians and let me tell you something would get Russia's attention, and also in my view, would deter them from even breaking run breaking the threshold of nuclear weapons. 

I agree with my friend Michael Krepon and we don't agree on much. But he's head of the Stimson Center. And he talked about his view is not no first use, but no use. We should persuade through deterrence. 

Any adversary don't even think of using nuclear weapons at any level or any scale, whether escalate to win or not. And that is what you can't do that by diplomatic persuasion. You have to have a deterrent. Plus, you have to have the policy that says you can't gain anything by going that way. And missile defense comes in big time here, particularly Space-based defenses. 

And as you pointed out, a missile from Kaliningrad can get to the Ukraine or Poland in minutes, and it can be hypersonic type speed, if they're the Chinese for example. They put it in what mid -orbit and launch it not like an ICBM and upside down U but something that comes across the terrain of the earth and very difficult to find and track and therefore very difficult to shoot down. But again, I don't see any alternative Kris except for deterrence.

Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President - Center for Military Modernization