That headline might look like sensationalist click bait to you, but the nuclear scientists who contribute to Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists appear to think it is an accurate reflection of the US Government’s current strategic thinking. The august journal that serves as the newsletter for members of their profession carries some very worrying news on US plans to modernise its nuclear arsenal.
The Atomic Scientists fsvourite bedtime reading published, in the latest edition,March 2017, an article which opened:
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.
“A surprise first strike.” That phrase is particularly worrying, because previously the justification for the existence of nuclear weapons has always been deterrence through mutually assured destruction. There are many people in Washington of course who have lost contact with reality and in their deranged state can actually convince themselves that a nuclear was is winnable. Anyone who is now thinking, “hold on there, mutually assured destruction might apply to everybody else but what about American exceptionalism. Well what about it. The idea that a nuclear war can be won with minimal levels of destruction in the USA seems to be based on the development of one, as yet untested piece of technology.
Because the innovations in the super-fuze appear, to the non-technical eye, to be minor, policymakers outside of the US government (and probably inside the government as well) have completely missed its revolutionary impact on military capabilities and its important implications for global security.
This vast increase in US nuclear targeting capability, which has largely been concealed from the general public, has serious implications for strategic stability and perceptions of US nuclear strategy and intentions.
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 report was authored by America’s moist senior experts in the analysis of weaponry and especially of the geostrategic balance between nations: Hans Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, and Theodore Postol. The authors explain why an accidental start of World War III or global annihilation would be likeiier from Russia than from the U.S.:
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.) Really? Have these refugees from reality not heard of Son of Satan
In other words they are claiming (wrongly as it happens, but hey they’re scientists – they don’t live in the real world,) that Trump would have about 30 minutes to decide that Putin had launched a blitz-first-strike attack, while Putin would have less than 15 minutes to judge whether Trump had. Here’s where it gets really crazy; if withing these periods, neither side can conclude with certainty that no nuclear strike had been launched by the other, then the ultimate authority would be obliged to launch an attack, upon the assumption that not to do so would result not only in a toxic planet with nuclear winter and universal starvation, but also in a humiliating and scandalous absence of retaliation against the aggressor.
The astounding assumptions about American technological superiority are what is most l;ikely to lead to nuclear disaster. I read in a novel recently of a hacker attack by a non-national force whose mindset permitted them to believe nuclear destruction was justified in order to glorify their god, and perpetrated a hacker attack on satellite early warning systems to create the appearance that east and west has simultaneously launched nuclear armed ICBMs to provoke real missile launches in response. That was just a fictional scenario, but is technically feasible, if such a non governmental terrorist force existed to exploit the many volnerabilities in the technology we are committed to. But such as terrorist force is – IS – IS – impossible is it not?
Inevitably, the personal morality and mindset of national leaders come in to play in that type of situation, but with so little time to gather and analyse information and decide on a course of action who can say decisions would be rational. Against that the worst prediction from the Warmageddonist lobby of the risks posed by global warming look about as threatening as a smelly fart.