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

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  • We cannot foresee a situation in which a competent and properly informed US president would order a surprise first strike against Russia or China. But our conclusion makes the increased sea-based offensive and defensive capabilities we have described seem all the more bizarre as a strategy for reducing the chances of nuclear war with either Russia or China.
  • Related: Trump’s Proposed Increase in U.S. Defense Spending Would Be 80 Percent of Russia’s Entire Military Budget

Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, Theodore A. Postol, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

1 March 2017 | The US nuclear forces modernization program has been portrayed to the public as an effort to ensure the reliability and safety of warheads in the US nuclear arsenal, rather than to enhance their military capabilities. In reality, however, that program has implemented revolutionary new technologies that will vastly increase the targeting capability of the US ballistic missile arsenal. This increase in capability is astonishing—boosting the overall killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces by a factor of roughly three—and it creates exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.

Because of improvements in the killing power of US submarine-launched ballistic missiles, those submarines now patrol with more than three times the number of warheads needed to destroy the entire fleet of Russian land-based missiles in their silos. US submarine-based missiles can carry multiple warheads, so hundreds of others, now in storage, could be added to the submarine-based missile force, making it all the more lethal.

Hans M. Kristensen is the director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in Washington, DC. His work focuses on researching and writing about the status of...

Matthew McKinzie is the director of the Nuclear Program of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in Washington, DC. He and Kristensen recently co-authored...

A physicist, Theodore A. Postol, is professor of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT. His expertise is in ballistic...

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Related:

Trump’s Proposed Increase in U.S. Defense Spending Would Be 80 Percent of Russia’s Entire Military Budget, Alex Emmons, the Intercept

At a meeting of U.S. governors on Monday, Trump described his forthcoming budget proposal as “a public safety and national security budget.”

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