As the security balance between China and the United States evolves, the task of mitigating concerns about strategic instability warrants careful attention. In part two of his conversation with Tong Zhao, Elbridge Colby discussed possible changes to U.S. nuclear doctrine, the potential for maintaining nuclear nonproliferation efforts in East Asia, and the future prospects of international arms control.

Colby said that U.S. nuclear doctrine should be adapted to meet emerging strategic contingencies, including the possibility of a more flexible nuclear posture. He also acknowledged Washington’s ongoing commitment to nuclear nonproliferation among its regional allies. While conceding that arms control agreements have limitations, Colby underscored their importance to promoting stability between the United States, China, and Russia.

Elbridge Colby

Elbridge Colby is the Robert M. Gates Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, where he focuses on strategic deterrence, nuclear weapons, conventional force, and military intelligence.

Tong Zhao

Tong Zhao is an associate in Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Program based at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. His research focuses on strategic security issues, including nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, missile defense, strategic stability, and China’s security and foreign policy.