Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Lisa Koch


The article explores the United States’ nuclear deterrence strategy in the context of rising nuclear threats from Russia and China. The U.S. arsenal has 1,770 deployed warheads across intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and bombers. A posture set by the presidential administration continues to reject a No First Use policy, focusing on modernization and renewed arms control with Russia and China. Russia, with 1,674 deployed warheads, suspended the New START Treaty following its invasion of Ukraine. China’s secretive nuclear program estimates 500 warheads, projecting growth and emphasizing its ICBM stockpile. The China-Russia partnership poses a significant risk to U.S. national security and international interests, necessitating reevaluating the United States’ deterrence strategies. Proposed solutions suggest increasing the U.S. nuclear stockpile, altering targeting policies, or pursuing arms control. Concerns about triggering an arms race and ethical implications arise. Restoring diplomatic efforts face challenges due to geopolitical complexities and adversaries’ reluctance. The article stresses the risks of inaction, highlighting that traditional policies are inadequate to address escalating threats. The article scrutinizes historical contexts, major powers’ current arsenals, geopolitical impacts, suggested remedies, and the urgent need for adaptive policy in navigating the dynamic nuclear landscape.