Can contemporary arms control keep pace with the rapid rate of change in both geopolitics and technology? While the challenges to future arms control point to a rocky road ahead, measures that build confidence, reduce miscalculation, enhance transparency, restrain costly and dangerous military competition, and offer useful mechanisms and venues for addressing sources of conflict will be of increasing value. For arms control tools to succeed, however, they must be adapted to the current security environment, account for rapidly evolving technological and informational factors, and consider alternative structures, modalities, and participation models. Indeed, now is the time for a recoupling of arms control with deterrence in a way that recognizes these new realities. Now is the time for integrated arms control that enhances stability, embraces plurality, and reinforces resiliency. This CSIS study examines the implication and prospects for the future of arms control in a highly competitive security environment in which challenges from advanced technologies and diminished state control over processes of verification become increasingly prominent features, even as the scope and modalities of arms control grow more complex and multifaceted. The report offers a reexamination of the broad contours of arms control and its role in managing competitive security risks and challenges and the implications for U.S. policymakers, academics, and strategic thinkers engaged in U.S. nuclear policy.
Rebecca K.C. Hersman is director of the Project on Nuclear Issues and senior adviser with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.
Heather Williams is a senior associate (non-resident) with the Project on Nuclear Issues at CSIS.
Suzanne Claeys is a program manager and research associate with the Project on Nuclear Issues at CSIS.
Executive Summary 1
1 | The Evolving Security Environment: Integrated Deterrence and Strategic Competition 10
2 | The Evolving Technology Landscape: Challenges for Arms Control 17
3 | The Evolving Information Ecosystem: Arms Control in the Digital Information Age 21
4 | Evolving Concepts of Escalation and Stability: Integrated Arms Control and Risk Reduction 26
5 | Integrated Arms Control: The Way Forward 30
Conclusions and Recommendations: Realizing an Integrated Arms Control Strategy 40
Appendix A: Canary in the Coal Mine: The Chemical Weapons Case Study 45
Appendix B: Disinformation and Covid-19 Case Study 49
About the Authors