The two polar-opposite alternative nuclear futures are abolition and cascading nuclear proliferation. Strategic analysts who worry most about abolition see signs of it in treaties that permit four-digit nuclear arsenals. It takes only a single additional, one-digit nuclear stockpile to trigger worst-case projections of nuclear cascades.
In between these poles lie two other alternative nuclear futures: sustainable nuclear deterrence and sustainable arms control. It’s hard to envision one without the other, but that doesn’t prevent warfare between these tribes. Supporters of sustained nuclear deterrence abhor abolition as well as cascading proliferation. In the United States, they sit on a three-legged stool – the nuclear triad — and will probably lose one of these legs. Many advocates of sustainable nuclear deterrence also oppose strategic arms reduction treaties and the CTBT, even though support for recapitalization – even at lower levels – will be hard to cobble together without new treaties.