Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Second Department


Reader 1

Lisa Koch

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

Shreya Bhatnagar


Are low-yield nuclear weapons the gateway to a new arms race? To discuss these challenges of low-yield nuclear weapons on the theory of deterrence, this paper will explore a myriad of topics in this thesis. Chapter Two will clarify the parameters of what constitutes a non-strategic or tactical ‘low-yield’ weapon as compared to a strategic high-yield weapon. Correspondingly, the chapter will cover arguments in support and critique of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence to explore the expert debate on the dominant nuclear theory. Chapter Three will expand on the creation of the Cold War-era nuclear arms control regime, drawing parallels of the first arms race to the proposed second race, that I argue we are currently heading into. Then, Chapter Four will investigate past and current U.S. nuclear doctrines, analyzing the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review in particular to understand the Trump administration’s attitudes towards nuclear modernization. Last, the conclusion will highlight the important inferences drawn from this thesis, stressing the dangers of exiting the NEW START without efforts towards a new arms control regime that must include provisions to limit and control LYNWs due to the inherent dangers they pose to deterrence, and thus, to this nuclear peace we currently live in.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.