A study on the development and implications of low-yield nuclear weapons, focusing on deterrence theory


  • Sungjoon Moon Chosun University, Department of Military Science




low-yield nuclear weapons, triangular deterrence, Deterrence 3C factor, tailored deterrence strategy, multilateral deterrence measures


This study aims to examine the development status and technical characteristics of low-yield nuclear weapons initiated by the Trump administration, predict the development trend in the Biden administration, analyze strategic implications that have affected the R.O.K.-U.S. Tailored Deterrence Strategy, and seek future countermeasures.

Regarding deterrence theory, low-power nuclear weapons are evaluated as a means of simultaneously expanding deterrence by denial and by retaliation. Additionally, low-yield nuclear weapons can be evaluated as having the capability, communication of nuclear retaliation wills and possibilities, and credibility for these wills and capabilities, which are 3C elements of deterrence in that they are “possible-use nuclear weapons.” Hence, they can be evaluated as highly-applicable deterrence means. As North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities have advanced and the U.S. is developing and deploying low-yield nuclear weapons, this article intends to make several suggestions regarding deterrence and response. First, because North Korea's policy to strengthen its tactical nuclear capabilities in 2021 is inevitably closely related to the technical characteristics of the development of low-yield nuclear weapons, it should be evaluated and prepared in connection with this. Second, it is necessary to understand the Biden administration's nuclear strategy regarding the extended deterrence strategy of the U.S. and discuss it closely based on the 5th NPR unveiled in early 2022. Third, to ensure the credibility of the R.O.K.-U.S. tailored deterrence strategy, “multilateral deterrence measures” must be considered at the regional level, including low-yield nuclear weapons.

Author Biography

Sungjoon Moon, Chosun University, Department of Military Science

(First Author) Chosun University, Department of Military Science, Guest professor with professional experience, [email protected], https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3512-5076

Submarine launched cruise missile




How to Cite

Moon, S. (2021). A study on the development and implications of low-yield nuclear weapons, focusing on deterrence theory. Journal of Advances in Military Studies, 4(3), 113-131. https://doi.org/10.37944/jams.v4i3.132