News | Feb. 15, 2024

Wicked Deterrence Challenge: The Changing Strategic Landscape

By Thomas Hammerle Joint Force Quarterly 112

Download PDF

Then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley congratulates National War College graduate during National Defense University’s 2023 graduation ceremony
Major Thomas Hammerle, USA, is a Strategic Intelligence Officer at U.S. Strategic Command.

The most pressing strategic challenge facing our vision is from powers that layer authoritarian governance with a revisionist foreign policy. It is their behavior that poses a challenge to international peace and stability—especially waging or preparing for wars of aggression, actively undermining the democratic political processes of other countries, leveraging technology and supply chains for coercion and repression, and exporting an illiberal model of international order. Many non-democracies join the world’s democracies in forswearing these behaviors. Unfortunately, Russia and the People’s Republic of China do not.

—National Security Strategy

The National Security Strategy of the United States laid out that the Nation is entering a decisive decade—not only for itself but also for the world.1 The current era of strategic competition is characterized by the reemergence of a geopolitical contest between powerful states over the shape of the future global order. After World War II, the Allies established a rules-based international order rooted in cooperative values and predicated on a framework of diplomatic and economic rules, led and enforced by like-minded nations. This system has enabled decades of prosperity for all nations that have elected to participate, but it is now under stress by revisionist nations. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), Russia, and North Korea are each intent on changing the international order to achieve their national ambitions.

The changing strategic environment has created a wicked deterrence challenge that will test the United States and its allies. These revisionist states are dissatisfied with the current international order because they see it as a threat to their own national objectives. Their ambitions pose a direct strategic challenge to the continued security of the United States and its allies because these nations are increasingly capable and willing to use force as a coercion mechanism. Russia is openly flouting international laws and norms—including its own commitment to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum—by invading Ukraine, violating its sovereignty and attempting to annex territory by force. China seeks to establish its own sphere of influence in the Pacific region that excludes the United States and Western influence while also attempting to resolve territorial disputes through coercion and threatening behavior. The most serious component of these strategic challenges for the United States is the modernization and expansion of both Russia’s and the PRC’s nuclear arsenals. For the first time in its history, the United States is simultaneously facing two adversarial nuclear peers whose aspirations directly challenge U.S. national values and threaten U.S. allies.

Wicked Deterrence Challenge

A wicked problem is one that is difficult to solve because of its complexity, incomplete and changing information, multiple stakeholders, competing and conflicting objectives, clash of cultures, or the unprecedented or novel nature of the situation.2 Deterrence, by its very nature as a function of influence over leadership decisionmaking, is a wicked problem. Leadership decisionmaking can be impacted by numerous unique factors, making the application of deterrence strategy more art than science. As Keith Payne writes, “There are few, if any, universal constants in this regard; instead, there is a wide variety of operating factors, some seen, others unseen, that can vary greatly across time, place, and opponent, and may be decisive in determining if and how deterrence will function.”3

The emergence of the multilateral strategic environment and the need to deter many nuclear actors simultaneously while continuing to assure allies require the United States to rethink its deterrence policy. How does deterrence policy need to adapt to address the changing multi-actor environment? To begin to answer this question, analysts must start with building an understanding of the strategic environment, including a deep understanding of individual nations and the specific leaders the United States seeks to deter. While this understanding will never be perfect, it will reduce ignorance and provide a basis for designing a tailored deterrence policy.

People’s Republic of China

The PRC’s meteoric rise has been motivated by its perceived need to restore its rightful place in the world order—to right the wrongs done to China during its so-called Century of Humiliation. While former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping articulated the PRC’s strategy as one of patience—the famous “hide and bide” strategy—current President Xi Jinping has abandoned this approach, instead seizing the opportunity to achieve his Chinese Dream of the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”4 However, Xi views the current world order as an unacceptable impediment to China’s geopolitical ambitions and the United States as a direct threat to its national security.5 The PRC views Western and particularly U.S. influence in the Pacific region as a violation of its right to act as the regional hegemon and an impediment to unification with Taiwan. Xi envisions China as the rightful preeminent Asian and global power. Xi’s bolder, more confrontational strategy has provoked responses both from regional nations concerned about their sovereignty and security and global nations invested in the current rules-based international order.

The PRC has repositioned itself politically, economically, and militarily to better enable it to achieve its aspirations. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has undertaken a holistic military modernization of both its conventional and nuclear capabilities. Modernization efforts have been under way for decades, but they have increased to an alarming pace under Xi’s leadership. The PRC has sought to develop an ability to forcibly expel Western forces and ultimately to prohibit their reentry into the region for the purpose of securing its ambitions. Nuclear weapons forces are “a strategic pillar of China’s great power status,” the linchpin in excluding U.S. and Western interference, and ultimately serve as the backstop to achieving its ambitions.6

The PLA’s rapid development of its nuclear arsenal is the fastest peacetime expansion of a nuclear arsenal the world has witnessed, going from just a few hundred weapons at the end of the Cold War era to a projected 1,500 by 2035 if its current pace continues unabated.7 These developments will match, and in some areas qualitatively exceed, equivalency with the United States. Xi has stated that he believes a robust nuclear weapons program is critical to the PRC’s ability to counter the United States in the Pacific region. To this end, the PRC is investing in and expanding the number of its land-, sea-, and air-based nuclear delivery platforms and constructing the infrastructure necessary to support this major expansion.8

The PRC’s nuclear strategy has been relatively consistent since it first acquired nuclear weapons in 1964, relying on a minimum deterrence strategy made credible by a small nuclear arsenal capable of delivering a secure second strike. The PRC’s declared no-first-use policy further reinforced this public commitment to maintaining a nonaggressive position. However, the PRC’s rapid nuclear expansion calls into question whether the PLA is still committed to this strategy.9 In his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, General Anthony Cotton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, articulated this point, stating, “The PRC’s actions are wholly inconsistent with its long-professed policy of minimum deterrence.”10 The expansion of the PRC’s nuclear arsenal opens myriad possibilities of ways it could adapt its strategy to both deter and coerce other nations. However, due to a lack of transparency and an unwillingness to engage in dialogue, it is unclear what the PRC’s intentions are.11

H-6K strategic bomber of China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force

The PRC’s potential to change its nuclear strategy cannot be understated in the maturing global circumstances. PLA officers are writing publicly about the need to articulate conditions under which nuclear first use may be permissible or even desirable. These include exceptional scenarios such as conventional defeat threatening regime survival, conventional attack on a nuclear scale, or attacks on PLA strategic forces.12 As a result, the durability of the PRC’s long-honored no-first-use policy may soon be limited or deficient. While PRC debate surrounding this policy gets the most attention from strategists and policymakers, there is also debate surrounding its “sole purpose” policy, with PLA strategists debating the benefits of using nuclear weapons to deter conventional conflict.13 The active debate in the PRC about changing its nuclear policy coupled with a lack of transparency and communication increases uncertainty and the potential for instability.

The discovery of 300 new potential intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos brought into sharp relief the extent of the PRC’s nuclear modernization and expansion.14 When complete, these silos will provide the PRC with persistent readiness and the ability to conduct extremely rapid launch sequences. In addition to investing in fixed silos, the PLA Rocket Force is investing in road mobiles and expanding the number of launchers and crews in each unit at an unprecedented rate.15 The PLA Navy’s six Jin-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) rotate through near-continuous deployment equipped with JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), though this platform is vulnerable as it needs to enter the open Pacific in order to target the United States. However, the PLA Navy is building the Type 096 SSBN, which will carry the updated JL-3 SLBM capable of targeting the United States from Chinese littoral waters, significantly increasing the survivability of its sea-based deterrent.16 Finally, the PLA Air Force is reestablishing its air leg with the updated H6-N bomber, which will complete a true regional triad. It is also developing a new strategic bomber, the H-20, but while specifications are still unknown, it is clear that the PRC is intent on obtaining a credible global triad.17 Beyond a traditional triad, the PRC is developing additional capabilities such as hypersonic missiles, fractional orbital bombardment systems, and the Dong Feng-26 medium-range ballistic missile with both conventional and nuclear payloads that could be swapped quickly in the field.18 While these capabilities are not novel, they all have the potential to be destabilizing.

At the same time the PRC is modernizing its nuclear capabilities, it is modernizing the command and control infrastructure to support it. Investments in ground-based large phased-array radars and the ability to detect ballistic missile launches with geostationary satellites have provided the PRC with a comprehensive early warning capability.19 These capabilities make credible the PRC’s desire to shift to a “launch on warning” nuclear posture, increasing the potential for miscalculation. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission detailed the risk with such a posture, stating that the “difficulties associated with learning to operate such a system could generate false alarms about nonexistent incoming nuclear attacks, potentially triggering a nuclear exchange between China and the United States.”20 The PRC’s unwillingness to enter risk-reduction dialogues and complete refusal to enter arms control negotiations mean these risks are left unaddressed.


The challenges posed by Russia to the rules-based international order have been on full display since at least 2008, with Russia’s invasion of Georgia, and again in 2022 when President Vladimir Putin began his “special military operation” in Ukraine to halt Kyiv’s economic and cultural progress toward the West. Putin views the U.S.-backed rules-based international order as a threat to the Russian way of life. It is his intent to renew the Russkiy Mir, the Russian world, and restore Russian prestige and cultural and political influence in the vein of previous Russian empires.21

The current revisionist and irredentist narrative in Russia argues that Russia is a victim of U.S.-European hegemony and is besieged by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) expansion in its periphery, a direct threat to the goal of reestablishing the Russian world. The war in Ukraine is a direct result of this perceived threat. Non-NATO and non–European Union states with strong relationships with the West, in general, have been less susceptible or receptive to Russian influence, thereby diminishing Russia’s status in its near abroad. At the prospect of further NATO enlargement, Putin felt threatened to the point of taking belligerent action. According to Dmitri Trenin, a member of Russia’s Foreign and Defense Policy Council, “What Russia craves is respect. It does not want to be a junior partner—it wants to be an equal.”22

Tu-160M strategic bomber of Russian Air Force flying over Russia

Despite significant initial gains in Ukraine, the Russian war effort has endured countless tactical, operational, and strategic setbacks and has begun to show clear signs of devolution into a protracted slog reminiscent of the Korean War in the 1950s. A significant portion of Russia’s conventional capability has been degraded and destroyed by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which could increase Putin’s reliance on nuclear capabilities for Russia’s defense. The continued use of nuclear saber-rattling by Putin and other Russian officials has effectively deterred Western intervention and heavily influenced the type of military assistance the West is willing to provide to Ukraine and undermined Ukrainian resistance.23 As evidenced by steadily increasing economic and material support from NATO, the effectiveness of these nuclear threats is eroding. Putin’s legitimate reliance on nuclear weapons, however, coupled with robust nuclear signaling should not be ignored or dismissed out of hand because Russia’s nuclear weapons arsenal remains a significant existential threat to the United States and its allies throughout Europe and the Pacific region.

The capability and credibility of Russia’s strategic and tactical nuclear forces make them a serious concern that cannot be ignored. Russia continues to invest substantial resources to expand and modernize its strategic and nonstrategic nuclear capabilities. Russia’s modernization plan, which has been in the works for over a decade, includes improving each leg of its triad of nuclear delivery systems and developing new and novel nuclear capabilities. For example, the Sarmat is a new silo-based ICBM that will be capable of carrying up to 10 nuclear warheads.24 Russia’s strategic submarine fleet will include an entirely new Dolgorukiy class of SSBN submarines equipped with SS-N-32 Bulava nuclear ballistic missiles by 2028. The Tu-160M supersonic strategic bomber aircraft has extended range and is equipped with more capable onboard systems than previous iterations, and 10 are already in the field.25 The modernization of the Russian nuclear force has increased the capability and credibility of Russia’s nuclear triad.

In addition to modernizing its legacy systems, Russia is developing and improving its hypersonic and other novel delivery systems. These include new systems such as the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, the Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile, and the Tsirkon land-attack cruise missile. Furthermore, Russia maintains over 2,000 non–treaty accountable—often referred to as tactical or nonstrategic—nuclear weapons that provide diverse and flexible use and deterrence options. In fact, it is this very threat of tactical nuclear weapons that has caused NATO nations to revitalize focus on both their conventional and nuclear capabilities to ensure that the Alliance possesses a credible deterrent.26 Both Russia’s strategic and tactical nuclear weapons are backed by a body of doctrine that explicitly lays out the conditions for nuclear use, including possible first use in response to threats to the “existence of the state.”27

Since 1972, the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union, later the Russian Federation, has been partially stabilized by a series of arms control agreements that provided mechanisms for building trust and reducing risk by allowing some strategic predictability in the relationship. For the first time in more than 40 years, U.S.-Russia relations lack the stabilizing guardrails of these arms control treaties. The last remaining arms control treaty regulating U.S. and Russian strategic forces, New START, has suffered due to the U.S. support of Ukraine after the Russian invasion. Shortly afterward, Russia began refusing onsite inspections by U.S. personnel allowed by the treaty. Later, Russia “paused” its compliance with New START and has since refused to begin negotiations to extend or modify the agreement, which is set to expire in February 2026.28 The expiration of strategic treaties with Russia will not only end self-imposed restraints, potentially spurring an arms race, but will also eliminate one of the most important conduits for communication between the United States and Russia and set conditions for dangerous miscommunication, misunderstanding, and miscalculation.

North Korea

North Korea has posed a consistent threat to the United States and its allies since the 1953 armistice. The nature of this threat has oscillated between moderate and acute but has remained consistently hostile. The persistence of the threat and more acute emerging challenges have unfortunately allowed some to become numb to the true severity and magnitude of what a conflict with North Korea could mean for the region and the United States. Conversely, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un does not waver in his focus on the United States as the perceived preeminent existential threat to his nation. To secure his power and protect his regime, Kim continues to invest in and grow North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. The growth of North Korea’s nuclear power goes beyond security. Jung H. Pak, a Fellow at the Brookings Institution, observed, “[Kim] has elevated and embedded nuclear weapons in both the popular consciousness and the ideological, physical, and cultural landscape, enshrining them in North Korea’s constitution and has effectively linked them to the country’s perception of prosperity.”29

Along with advancing weapons development, North Korea has continued to advance its nuclear program, accelerating its testing program while refining its nuclear doctrine. North Korea enshrines its nuclear doctrine into law, the most recent update occurring in 2022 with the establishment of the State Policy and Nuclear Forces. This law served as an update to the 2013 Law on Consolidating Position of Nuclear Weapons State. While the 2022 law remains consistent with the earlier version in affirming the role of nuclear weapons in deterring aggression or responding if deterrence should fail, it also outlined the situations that could warrant a preemptive nuclear attack.30 Most concerning, the 2022 North Korean law details the potential for an automatic nuclear response—often referred to as a “dead man’s hand” mechanism—should military commanders be unable to communicate with leadership in Pyongyang during a conflict. This severely complicates the deterrence and escalation management strategies of the United States and its allies.31

Doubts regarding the credibility of North Korea’s nuclear capability should be discarded. Each successive underground nuclear test has produced a larger yield, with North Korea’s last test in 2017 producing a yield of approximately 250 kilotons—10 times larger than the bomb used at Nagasaki in 1945.32 Furthermore, North Korea’s delivery systems continue to advance as the nation adheres to an aggressive testing schedule. In 2022, North Korea conducted nearly 100 missile tests, more than it had ever conducted.33 North Korea is developing ICBMs capable of holding the United States at risk and several intermediate- and medium-range ballistic missiles capable of targeting South Korea and Japan. It is also pursuing an SLBM capability, which would increase the survivability of its deterrent.34 Estimating the size of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is exceedingly difficult, as the regime is even less transparent than that of the PRC. That stated, North Korea is thought to have anywhere from 35 to 65 warheads today, with the ability to add up to 18 more warheads per year.35 The international community should no longer consider Kim a proxy of the Chinese Communist Party or a buffer state puppet and must not ignore North Korea’s unique national objectives.

Complexity in the Multi-Actor Strategic Environment

The PRC, Russia, and North Korea represent primary nuclear security concerns for the United States and its allies because of those states’ abilities to threaten existentially and coerce effectively. In the developing multi-actor environment, U.S. relationships with each of these states do not happen in a vacuum. The strategic environment contains other nuclear weapons states, including U.S. allies the United Kingdom and France. India and Pakistan are de facto nuclear weapons states, as they are not signatories to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), nor are they recognized as sanctioned nuclear weapons states by the NPT, as they acquired their capability after 1970. There are also additional nations that may desire nuclear weapons—adversaries such as Iran.

For its part, the United States extends deterrence with its nuclear umbrella through collective defense treaties to the 31 (soon to be 32) nations of NATO, as well as Japan, South Korea, and Australia. Thus, the deterrent relationships are never bilateral, as is often misremembered about the Cold War era, but instead contain the security concerns of multiple actors. As numerous deterrence scholars have expressed, including Thérèse Delpech, this multi-actor strategic environment “may make a situation more unstable . . . as [multiple actors] introduce more variables” into deterrence strategies.36 In U.S. deterrence efforts, each deterrence relationship must be tailored for each state or actor and must consider the nearly incalculable positions of allies and partners as well as cooperators, competitors, and adversaries.

Cooperation between the United States and its traditional allies remains strong and continues to grow. However, in the maturing multi-actor deterrence reality, there is increased cooperation between and among the historically fiercely independent PRC, Russia, and North Korea in instances where their strategic objectives align. These adversaries also have their own strategic deterrent relationships beyond those with the United States. China, India, and Pakistan form a deterrence triangle that features China’s and Pakistan’s increasing cooperation while both actively deterring India and each other. This makes the second- and third-order effects of strategic choices as critically important as any deliberate direct effort. Actions taken by the United States to assure an Indo-Pacific ally could inspire the PRC to adjust its deterrent strategy, which could trigger India to adjust its deterrent strategy, causing a ripple effect into its deterrent relationship with Pakistan. Understanding how the relationships of adversaries, allies, partners, and third parties are interrelated and connected is necessary to operate in the multi-actor strategic environment.

People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force displays its intermediate-range ballistic missile Dong Feng-26 during military parade in front of Tiananmen Gate during military parade to celebrate 70th anniversary of People’s Republic of China


Deterrence has been the cornerstone of the National Security Strategy (NSS) of the United States since defense strategist Bernard Brodie declared, “Thus far the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars. From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them. It can have almost no other useful purpose.”37 As we traverse what the NSS has declared as a decisive decade, the nature of deterrence strategy is changing. The emergence of a multi-actor strategic environment with two nuclear-peer adversaries and numerous other proliferation challenges poses a truly wicked problem that requires a concerted effort to unravel. Given the complexity of the problem, the best that can honestly be expected is probably an increase of understanding and a reduction of uncertainty. This begins with understanding each unique adversary and the relationships that influence strategic decisionmaking with that state, and evaluating which circumstances can maintain a U.S. and allied advantage.

The PRC and Russia pose the greatest threat to the United States and its allies, but they are not the only threats. North Korea is growing its nuclear arsenal and lowering the threshold for nuclear use. In addition, how these adversaries interact with each other will further challenge deterrence strategies. As the national objectives of the PRC, Russia, and North Korea align, increased instances of cooperation, coordination, or (potentially) alliance may emerge. Finally, these relationships are not immune from the influence of other actors in the strategic environment. India and Pakistan can affect the Sino-American deterrence relationship and vice versa. The incompatible visions for the international order, conflict of values, and clash of cultures are the hallmarks of this decisive decade. The United States and allies must adapt deterrence strategies to these changing circumstances.

In 1966, in his Day of Affirmation Address to the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Robert F. Kennedy stated, “Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.”38 Today, the United States and allies face another time of danger and uncertainty. While it is filled with wicked deterrence challenges, the United States and allies have a history of facing challenges with courage and creativity. Building a shared understanding of the challenge is the first step of meeting the challenges of this decade. JFQ


1 National Security Strategy (Washington, DC: The White House, October 2022), 8.

2 John C. Camillus, “Strategy as a Wicked Problem,” Harvard Business Review, May 2008.

3 Keith B. Payne, Deterrence Is Not Rocket Science: It Is More Difficult, Information Series, Issue No. 527 (Fairfax, VA: National Institute Press, July 6, 2022),

4 Jennifer Bradley, China’s Strategic Ambitions: A Strategy to Address China’s Nuclear Breakout, Information Series, Issue No. 531 (Fairfax, VA: National Institute Press, August 17, 2022),

5 Michael Beckley and Hal Brands, “The End of China’s Rise,” Foreign Affairs, October 1, 2021,

6 Zhao Tong, “What’s Driving China’s Nuclear Buildup?” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, August 5, 2021,

7 Bonnie Denise Jenkins, “China’s Military Modernization: Implications for Regional Security Track 1.5 Dialogue,” Department of State, June 28, 2023,

8 “Statement of Anthony J. Cotton, Commander, United States Strategic Command, Before the House Armed Services Committee on Strategic Forces, March 8, 2023,”; Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community (Washington, DC: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, February 6, 2023),

9 Grant Van Robays et al., “A Great Nuclear Rejuvenation: What China Can Do With an Expanded Nuclear Arsenal,” Space and Defense Journal 14, no. 1 (Spring 2023), 7–21,

10 Cotton.

11 Jennifer Bradley, China’s Nuclear Modernization and Expansion: Ways Beijing Could Adapt Its Nuclear Policy (Fairfax, VA: National Institute Press, July 2022),

12 Cotton; Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

13 Bradley, China’s Nuclear Modernization and Expansion, 27.

14 Ashley Roque, “New Pentagon Report Details China’s Growing Nuclear Arsenal, Possible New Missile Effort,” Breaking Defense, October 19, 2023,

15 Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2023: Annual Report to Congress (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2023), viii.

16 Patty-Jane Geller and Peter Brooks, “China’s Growing Nuclear Threat,” Factsheet No. 209, Heritage Foundation, May 3, 2021,

17 Mark Episkopos, “Why China’s Mysterious H-20 Bomber Could Be a Real Threat,” The National Interest, May 26, 2021.

18 Jenkins, China’s Military Modernization.

19 Ibid.

20 2021 Report to Congress of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (Washington, DC: Government Publishing Office, 2021), “Section 2: China’s Nuclear Forces: Moving Beyond A Minimal Deterrent,” 360,

21 Wilfried Jilge, “Russkiy Mir: ‘Russian World’,” German Council on Foreign Relations, May 3, 2016.

22 Pierre Hassner, “Russia’s Transition to Autocracy,” Journal of Democracy 19, no. 2 (April 2008), 5–15,

23 Pierre de Dreuzy and Andrea Gilli, “Russia’s Nuclear Coercion in Ukraine,” NATO Review, November 29, 2022,

24 Maxim Starchak, “Russia’s Sarmat Missile Saga Reflects an Industry in Crisis,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 18, 2023,

25 Cotton; Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

26 Dreuzy and Gilli, “Russia’s Nuclear Coercion in Ukraine.”

27 Cotton; Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

28 Frank G. Klotz and William Courtney, “Hard Times for U.S.-Russia Nuclear Arms Control,” RAND, August 28, 2023.

29 Jung H. Pak, “What Kim Wants: The Hopes and Fears of North Korea’s Dictator,” Foreign Affairs, May/June 2020.

30 Bruce Klinger, The Troubling New Changes to North Korea’s Nuclear Doctrine, Backgrounder No. 3729 (Washington, DC: Heritage Foundation, October 17, 2022),

31 Ibid.

32 Bruce W. Bennett et al., Countering the Risks of North Korean Nuclear Weapons (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, April 2021), 27–28,

33 Sue Mi Terry, “The New North Korean Threat: Why the United States Needs to Address Pyongyang’s Nuclear Advances Now,” Foreign Affairs, January 19, 2023,

34 “Nuclear Disarmament North Korea,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, September 14, 2023.

35 Bennett et al., Countering the Risks of North Korean Nuclear Weapons, 36–37.

36 Thérèse Delpech, Nuclear Deterrence in the 21st Century: Lessons from the Cold War for a New Era of Strategic Policy (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, January 2012), 39,

37 “Brodie and the Bomb,” Air Force Magazine, June 1, 2013,

38 Robert F. Kennedy, “Day of Affirmation Address, University of Capetown, Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966,” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum,