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

“More Nukes” Will Not Make Anyone Safer

The New York Times found an odd way to commemorate this year’s anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings—by publishing on August 9 an opinion piece by columnist Bret Stephens titled “The U.S. Needs More Nukes.” Matt Korda has a nice article about it in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. I wanted to add a few comments of my own. Read more >

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The House is Setting a New, More Rational Direction for US Nuclear Policy

The House today began debating its version of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress’ annual effort to oversee US security policy and set defense program funding levels. What’s different this year is the bill signals a new, much-needed change in direction for US nuclear weapons policy, one that would reduce the nuclear threat and cut some spending on these weapons.

The House bill stands in stark contrast with the version the Senate passed easily in late June, which would fully fund the Trump administration’s nuclear programs and in some cases even increase funding. We support passage of the House version of the NDAA; if its version becomes law, it will be a victory not only for US security, but also for common sense. Read more >

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NNSA’s FY20 Budget Request: Full Speed Ahead on Weapons Development and Production

In March the Department of Energy released its FY20 budget request for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is responsible for developing, producing and maintaining US nuclear warheads and bombs. Read more >

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The Demise of the INF Treaty is Dangerous

On February 1st, the Trump administration announced that the United States will withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. The next day, Russia responded by doing the same. These withdrawals will take effect in six months, if nothing is done to save the treaty.

This course of events was no surprise, since President Trump has been threatening withdrawal for months, but the lack of surprise makes the decision no more welcome and no less dangerous. Withdrawal from the treaty undermines the security of the United States and its allies, and opens the door to a new era of arms racing, threatening US-Russian nuclear stability. Read more >

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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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