Next month marks the 70th anniversary of the day in 1949 when U.S. intelligence discovered the Soviet Union had conducted its first successful test of a nuclear weapon. From that day forward, most Americans have understood that nuclear war would likely be the worst fate that could ever befall our republic.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the appearance of new threats, though, the sense of urgency about nuclear security has waned. The infrastructure supporting nuclear deterrence has decayed to a point where all three legs of the strategic “triad”—land-based missiles, sea-based missiles and long-range bombers—need to be replaced. Meanwhile, the architecture used to command and control nuclear forces has changed little since the Reagan era.