Ƶ Article
September 2023

Early- and Mid-Career Experts Reflect on New Nuclear Book

Photo of a jet by Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger/U.S. Air Force

The Fragile Balance of Terror: Deterrence in the New Nuclear Age, edited by Vipin Narang and Scott Sagan, explores emerging risks of the new nuclear age associated with “new” nuclear weapons states, potential proliferators, and de facto nuclear weapons states. This volume was commissioned under the American Ƶ of Arts and Sciences’ project on Deterrence and New Nuclear States, the second phase of multi-year initiative, Meeting the Challenges of the New Nuclear Age

Inspired by Albert Wohlstetter’s article, “The Delicate Balance of Terror” (1958), The Fragile Balance of Terror meets the demands for new thinking and analysis in a post-Cold War framework to evaluate the current destabilizing nuclear balance. Narang and Sagan argue that “our theories and understanding derived from the Cold War bipolar nuclear competition leave us ill-equipped to handle the daunting challenges of this new nuclear age.” The wide range of topics covered in The Fragile Balance of Terror include multipolar deterrence, the relationship between psychology and deterrence, the degree to which crisis escalation is influenced by social media, open-source intelligence and nuclear threats, nuclear survivability, command and control, and nuclear learning.  

In reaction to The Fragile Balance of Terror, the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies invited eight early- and mid-career scholars to offer their reflections on the volume’s chapters and conclusions. These rising voices point out challenges of the evolving nuclear landscape that policymakers and scholars will be forced to confront. The next generation of experts on nuclear security remind us that nuclear deterrence is complex and that new thinking is needed to understand the dynamics of the wider nuclear landscape. 

Their reflections are available in the online report 




Deterrence and New Nuclear States

Scott D. Sagan and Vipin Narang

Meeting the Challenges of the New Nuclear Age

Christopher F. Chyba and Robert Legvold