This new, second edition report from 2018 has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. Mr. Henry Sokolski has written an excellent, short book about what he sees as our not so peaceful nuclear future. While short in length, it covers a lot of ground, and because it is extensively footnoted, it can lead readers to the broader literature. The book provides a good picture of the growing stockpiles of separated plutonium and the stockpiles of highly-enriched uranium, as well as the likely expansion of nuclear power programs in additional countries. When reading the book, my thoughts turned to the Per Bak book, How Nature Works, and the concept of self-organized criticality and its descriptions of computer simulations and experiments leading to avalanches in sand piles. This may be a useful way of thinking about the possible consequences of nuclear weapons proliferation as the stockpiles of fissile material grow. Also, as we think about the likelihood of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we should be aware that developing nuclear weapons may be easier as time passes and computing power increases, high energy explosives improve, and diagnostic technology advances. Mr. Sokolski includes a discussion of the question: Does it matter if more countries have nuclear weapons? He points out that a number of respected people say it does not; some say it would be a more stable world. Mr. Sokolski disagrees, and I am with him, for two reasons. First, those who say it will not matter, I believe, tend to assume that deterrence of attacks by others is almost automatic. There is little discussion of the vulnerability of the weapons, delivery systems, command and central systems, and more. Having a well-protected second-strike capability historically was not automatic; it took time and effort, changed operational practices, etc. Second, the Russians have been writing for at least the past 15 years of the need they have for tactical nuclear weapons to defend their large territory, because they say they do not have the resources to defend conventionally. They call for a new generation of nuclear weapons that would be easier to use. They more recently have developed an interest in the early use of tactical nuclear weapons to de-escalate a conflict quickly.
From the Preface: It has been more than 3 years since the release of the first edition of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future. Since then, Kim Jong-un has conducted three nuclear tests, destroyed a nuclear test site, and has pledged to President Donald Trump to denuclearize. Meanwhile, the United States agreed to a multilateral nuclear deal limiting Iran's nuclear program and then pulled out of the deal. Finally, President Trump was elected and has been eager to question all aspects of U.S. policy, including those related to national security and nuclear policy. Other important nuclear developments have occurred as well. These are all reflected in the edits that have been made to this second edition.