A yet-to-be-released study by the Pentagon's Defense Science Board "recommends developing a range of lower-yield nuclear weapons because the current US arsenal 'is not adequate to [meet] future national security needs," Jane's Defence Weekly reports. "The thinking, a senior military official explained, is that atomic weapons with smaller explosive yields would be seen as more credibly used, thus increasing their deterrence power against potential adversaries."
The envisaged new arsenal is not to be confused with the notion of much smaller "mini-nukes" that have gained notoriety over the past year. Instead, the studys proposed new weapons will be an evolution of existing nuclear weapons... adapted to produce lower yields as well as "special effects" such as an enhanced electromagnetic pulse...The study also proposes dramatic increases in non-nuclear capabilities, but several would entail serious treaty repercussions. Most prominently, it calls for MX Peacekeeper ICBMs to be converted, by 2010, to carry conventional explosives at an initial research and deployment cost of US$950 million. Another recommendation calls for development of a new 1500 nautical mile range submarine-launched ballistic missile, also topped with conventional warheads.