News Release

Postol: U.S. Policies Driving Putin Nuclear Statements

NBC News reports in “Putin unveils new nuclear missile, says ‘listen to us now’” that: “Russia has a new array of nuclear-capable weapons including an intercontinental ballistic missile that renders defense systems ‘useless,’ President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday.”

Available for a very limited number of interviews, Postol is professor of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT. He said today: “The American foreign policy establishment should not be surprised by Mr. Putin’s recent statements about Russian efforts to improve the capabilities of their nuclear forces against U.S. offensive nuclear forces and missile defenses.

“The United States has created the appearance that it believes it can fight and win a nuclear war against Russia. The U.S. is in the process of increasing the killing power of its nuclear ballistic missile forces against Russian ICBMs by a factor of three or more, and it is building missile defenses that suggest the U.S. believes it can strike Russia and and then defend against retaliation. It has issued a Nuclear Policy Review (NPR) that makes it clear that the U.S. could choose to use nuclear weapons first and at any time.

“Mr. Putin has made many statements in the past warning about these U.S. efforts and his current statements are simply consistent with those he has made in the past.”

In 2014, Postol wrote the piece “How the Obama Administration Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” for The Nation.

Last year, Postol co-wrote a paper for The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: “How U.S. nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze.”

The paper warned: “The U.S. nuclear forces modernization program has been portrayed to the public as an effort to ensure the reliability and safety of warheads in the U.S. 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 U.S. ballistic missile arsenal. This increase in capability is astonishing — boosting the overall killing power of existing U.S. 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.”

The paper continued: “The capability upgrade has happened outside the attention of most government officials, who have been preoccupied with reducing nuclear warhead numbers. The result is a nuclear arsenal that is being transformed into a force that has the unambiguous characteristics of being optimized for surprise attacks against Russia and for fighting and winning nuclear wars. While the lethality and firepower of the U.S. force has been greatly increased, the numbers of weapons in both U.S. and Russian forces have decreased, resulting in a dramatic increase in the vulnerability of Russian nuclear forces to a U.S. first strike. We estimate that the results of arms reductions with the increase in U.S. nuclear capacity means that the U.S. military can now destroy all of Russia’s ICBM silos using only about 20 percent of the warheads deployed on U.S. land- and sea-based ballistic missiles.”

See Institute for Public Accuracy news release with Postol from last year: “U.S. Breakthrough on Nuclear First Strike Threatens Stability.”

See Institute for Public Accuracy news release from earlier this month: “U.S. Nuclear Stance Toward Russia Increasing Existential Threats.”