News Release

U.S. Breakthrough on Nuclear First Strike Threatens Stability

warhead-photo_2The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists recently published a paper by three leading scientists: “How U.S. nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze.”

The paper states: “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 authors of the paper are available for interviews:

HANS KRISTENSEN, hkristensen [at] fas.org
MATTHEW McKINZIE, mmcKinzie [at] nrdc.org
THEODORE A. POSTOL, postol [at] mit.edu
Kristensen is the director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists. McKinzie is the director of the Nuclear Program of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Postol is professor of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT.

The paper continues: “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.”