Video On Demand

The Nuclear Policy Trilemma

September 21 – 22, 2021

Balancing Nuclear Modernization, Alliance Management and Effective Arms Control in a Competitive Security Environment

United States nuclear policy faces a trilemma. In an increasingly tight fiscal environment, policymakers are seeking to repair and rebuild alliance relationships with vital allies, modernize crucial aspects of the nuclear arsenal, and revitalize a crumbling bilateral and multilateral arms control infrastructure – all in a context of deep ideological polarization and politicization across the nuclear policy landscape. Pursuit of any one of these three goals may have reverberating impacts across the others. For instance, prioritizing certain types of arms control could undermine U.S. nuclear modernization and strain U.S. extended deterrence commitments. This virtual conference will examine different aspects of these priorities and tensions and explore how to weigh and address these seemingly competing policy priorities. The conference will seek to disentangle this nuclear triangle, offering paths forward for policymakers to balance these three policy goals.

Please join PONI on September 21 and 22, 2021, for a virtual two-day conference to explore the nuclear trilemma. Additional speakers to be announced shortly.

September 21, 8:30 am – 11:15 am

Conference Welcome | 8:30 AM - 8:45 AM

Keynote Address | 8:45 AM - 9:30 AM

Senator Angus King will keynote the conference and will provide remarks regarding U.S. nuclear modernization, alliance management, and arms control. 

Rebecca Hersman, Senior Advisor and Director, CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues

Senator Angus King, Chair, Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces 

A Unified Front? Understanding Partner and Alliance Views on U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy​ | 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Which nuclear weapons capabilities and policies do U.S. partners and allies view as most instrumental for extended deterrence? Are they most concerned with U.S. declaratory policy, overall U.S. force structure, conventional military presence in the region, or nuclear stationing and burdensharing? What are their policy preferences in each of these elements? How would allies view a decreased role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy?

Eric Brewer, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues

Ivo Daalder, President, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Jessica Cox, Director of Nuclear Policy, NATO

Jina Kim, Research Fellow, Korea Institute for Defense Analyses

Hideshi Tokuchi, President, Research Institute for Peace and Security

September 22, 9:00 am – 12:15 pm


Forging Arms Control in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities of Nuclear Modernization​ | 9:00AM - 10:30 AM

Do unilateral reductions in nuclear weapons or delivery systems help or undermine future arms control initiatives? What is the role for allies in U.S. bilateral and multilateral arms control? What is the role for the P-5, particularly France and the UK in strategic arms control? Which types of arms control might better support extended deterrence? Can arms control measures check expanding Russian and Chinese nuclear capabilities? Can deterrence and arms control priorities be effectively balanced?

Brad Roberts, Director, Center for Global Security Research

Jane Vaynman, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Temple University

Heather Williams, Senior Lecturer, Defense Studies Department, King’s College London

Tong Zhao, Senior Fellow, Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy

Modernizing the Nuclear Triad: Key Capabilities to Maintain Credible U.S. Deterrence​​ | 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM

How should the Biden administration pursue a safe, secure, and reliable nuclear deterrent and maintain effective extended deterrence and assurance while reducing the role of nuclear weapons in the national security strategy? Taking these trilemma tensions into account, what are the best policy prescriptions for the next Nuclear Posture Review—and beyond.

Rebecca Hersman, Senior Advisor and Director, CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues
Rose Gottemoeller, Payne Distinguished Lecturer, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University
Christopher Ford, Senior Advisor, MITRE
Lynn Rusten
, Vice President, Global Nuclear Policy Program, Nuclear Threat Initiative

Virtual Conference sponsored by Northrop Grumman