Page:Carter Presidential Directive 59, Nuclear Weapons Employment Policy.djvu/2

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July 25, 1980

Presidential Directive/NSC-59

The Vice President
The Secretary of Defense

The Assistant to the President for
    National Security Affairs
The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Nuclear Weapons Employment Policy (C)

In PD-18, I directed a follow-on study of our targeting policy for nuclear forces. I have reviewed the results and considered their implications for maintaining deterrence in the present decade, Particularly in light of the growing Soviet strategic weapons arsenal and its capabilities. (S)

The most fundamental objective of our strategic policy remains nuclear deterrence. I reaffirm the directive of PD-18 to that effect. The purpose of this directive is to outline policies and actions in the nuclear force employment field to secure that continuing objective. (S)

Our strategic nuclear forces must be able to deter nuclear attacks not only on our own country but also on our forces overseas, as well as on our friends and allies, and to contribute to deterrence of non-nuclear attacks. To continue to deter in an era of strategic nuclear equivalence, it is necessary to have nuclear (as well as conventional) forces such that in considering aggression against our interests any adversary would recognize that no plausible outcome would represent a victory or any plausible definition of victory. To this end and so as to preserve the possibility of bargaining effectively to terminate the war on acceptable terms that are as favorable as practical, if deterrence fails initially, we must be capable of fighting successfully so that the adversary would not achieve his war aims and would suffer costs that are unacceptable, or in any event greater than his gains, from having initiated an attack. (C)

Review on May 17, 2001
Reason for Extension: NSC 1.13(e)

Partially Declassified/Released on 8-20-96
under provisions of E.O. 12958
by D. Van Tascal, National Security Council