Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Just What Did We Start?

I think the Russians are using that "reset" button that Hillary Clinton gave them for something completely different:

Now for the first time, according to the latest New START data exchange, Russia actually has more actively deployed nuclear warheads than the U.S.

The minor Russian advantage in strategic nuclear weapons comes despite the incredible asymmetry in both countries’ commitments to global security and despite Russia’s 10-to-one advantage in tactical nuclear weapons systems in the European theatre.

And you wonder why Putin has felt free to rattle his nuclear sabre so often lately over Ukraine?

Note that Russia is adding warheads in a most destabilizing manner--increasing the number of warheads per missile.

That is destabilizing because it increases the incentive for an enemy to launch a first strike and take out 10 warheads mounted on one missile with only one (or maybe 2) warheads. And that will encourage Russia to rely on "launch-on-warning" rather than ride out a first strike, which puts Russian nukes on a hair trigger vulnerable to problems with the early warning system that might falsely alert the Russians of a strike on the way. If Russia can't take the time to see if they are actually under attack before launching, they could accidentally initiate a first strike.

Worst case, Russia actually plans to launch a first strike as part of their national security strategy. I doubt that, but you never know. Russia could be that paranoid.

One can argue just how many nuclear warheads we need for our security and whether a slight Russian advantage at the strategic level is meaningful.

And you can argue whether or not British, French, and Chinese nukes balance Russia's shorter-range nuclear dominance over our theater-range warheads.

But it is hard to argue that the assumption that provided the basis for the New START nuclear agreement--that Russia is not our opponent--is still meaningful.

The news is old, but I only recently read this via Instapundit.