Eryn MacDonald

Analyst

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Ms. MacDonald received her MA in International Relations and Comparative Politics from Cornell University in 2009, specializing in China. Before coming to UCS in 2011 she worked at the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) program, and was an instructor at Endicott College teaching courses on international relations. Areas of expertise: Nuclear weapons complex, China

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Eryn's Latest Posts

Trump Wants a New Low-Yield Nuclear Weapon. But the US Has Plenty Already.

The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), released in February of this year, calls attention to the composition of the US nuclear arsenal and its adequacy as a deterrent. The NPR calls for a new lower-yield submarine-launched nuclear warhead, arguing that it is needed to “counter any mistaken perception of an exploitable ‘gap’ in U.S. regional deterrence capabilities.” We decided to put together the chart in Fig. 1 to illustrate the range of nuclear weapons already available in the US arsenal.

One thing that this visual immediately makes clear is that it would be difficult to perceive any real gap in US capabilities—the existing arsenal certainly does not lack for nuclear options for any occasion. Read more >

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Update on the Low-Yield Trident Warhead: Time for the Senate to Step Up

A couple of weeks ago, we noted that the Senate Armed Services Committee was about to get its chance to consider the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which in its current form includes $88 million in funding for a new, lower-yield warhead for the Trident D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), designated the W76-2. At the time, the House Armed Services Committee had voted, along party lines, to reject an amendment that would have eliminated funding for the new warhead. Read more >

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The FY2019 National Nuclear Security Administration Budget: Weapons Are Winners

In late February the Department of Energy (DOE) released its FY2019 budget request for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and in late March Congress passed its final FY2018 appropriations bill, so we now have more information about the agency’s plans for the next several years. To no one’s surprise, both the administration and Congress increased funding for the NNSA and, in particular, for its nuclear weapons work. Read more >

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The Senate Should Oppose the New Low-Yield Trident Warhead

This week, the Senate Armed Services Committee will take its turn to mark up the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This also gives it an opportunity to weigh in on the Trump administration’s proposal for a new, lower-yield warhead for the Trident D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), funding for which is included in the bill. Read more >

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Whose Finger Is on the Button? Nuclear Launch Authority in the United States and Other Nations

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, and perhaps even more since Trump’s election, the media discovered a newfound interest in the minutiae of US nuclear policy. One question in particular has been asked over and over—can the president, with no one else to concur or even advise, order the use of US nuclear weapons? Most people have been shocked and somewhat horrified to find that there is a simple answer—yes. Read more >

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