Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Russia and America’s New (Conventional) ICBM Race

A radar monitors Russian territory during a drill
Adding conventionally armed ICBMs could, under certain scenarios, increase, rather than diminish, the risks of nuclear escalation 

If reports in Russian state media last Friday are accurate, the world may be on the brink of seeing a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) race, though of a conventional type rather than the nuclear arms race of the Cold War. 

According to a report by RIA Novosti, Moscow may be developing a heavy-liquid-fuel, non-nuclear, precision-guided payload capability for a new class of ICBMs, which would give Russia near-global coverage similar to that sought by the U.S. under the controversial “Prompt Global Strike” program. 

Using rhetoric that harkened back to the dark days of the Cold War, Russian Strategic Missile Forces Commander Colonel General Sergei Karakayev warned that Russia could develop its own strategic conventional ICBM force if the U.S. did not pull back from its efforts to create such a system, which gives the U.S. the ability to strike targets anywhere in the world within a matter of minutes. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

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