Saturday, March 11, 2017

Atomic Scientists — How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze

First strike capability, neutralizing nuclear deterrence.
Russian planners will almost surely see the advance in fuzing capability as empowering an increasingly feasible US preemptive nuclear strike capability—a capability that would require Russia to undertake countermeasures that would further increase the already dangerously high readiness of Russian nuclear forces. Tense nuclear postures based on worst-case planning assumptions already pose the possibility of a nuclear response to false warning of attack. The new kill capability created by super-fuzing increases the tension and the risk that US or Russian nuclear forces will be used in response to early warning of an attack—even when an attack has not occurred.
The increased capability of the US submarine force will likely be seen as even more threatening because Russia does not have a functioning space-based infrared early warning system but relies primarily on ground-based early warning radars to detect a US missile attack. Since these radars cannot see over the horizon, Russia has less than half as much early-warning time as the United States. (The United States has about 30 minutes, Russia 15 minutes or less.)
The inability of Russia to globally monitor missile launches from space means that Russian military and political leaders would have no “situational awareness” to help them assess whether an early-warning radar indication of a surprise attack is real or the result of a technical error.
The combination of this lack of Russian situational awareness, dangerously short warning times, high-readiness alert postures, and the increasing US strike capacity has created a deeply destabilizing and dangerous strategic nuclear situation.
When viewed in the alarming context of deteriorating political relations between Russia and the West, and the threats and counter-threats that are now becoming the norm for both sides in this evolving standoff, it may well be that the danger of an accident leading to nuclear war is as high now as it was in periods of peak crisis during the Cold War....
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze
Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie and Theodore A. Postol

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Ryan Harris said...

China spends more and has more interesting weapons to challenge US hegemony. They are advancing in conventional and non-conventional weaponry, nuclear and non-nuclear.

Dan Lynch said...

Some say that Russia has the ability to shoot down any incoming missiles, though there is no way to know for sure.

If I were president/king/whatever, I would not launch nukes. What would be the point of launching nukes if no one can win a nuclear war? Russia's strategy of developing the ability to shoot down threats makes more sense to me.

Ryan Harris said...
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