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Discrimination Details Matter: Clarifying an Argument About Low-Yield Nuclear Warheads


February 16, 2019
By Austin Long

Perhaps the most controversial element of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review has been the push to deploy a low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warhead. In a recent essay on War on the Rocks, Vipin Narang describes the so-called “discrimination problem”: If an SLBM is launched, he argues, an adversary will not be able to tell that it is carrying a single low-yield warhead. They will therefore have to assume a massive nuclear assault is underway and respond accordingly.
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