Strategic Weapons: February 15, 2000


The US is seeking creative ways to convince the Russians to accept changes to the 1972 ABM Treaty. One idea is to let the Russians keep some multi-warhead missiles, weapons that are now scheduled for destruction under the previous START treaties. This would, in theory, give the Russians confidence that they could overwhelm US defenses in a retaliatory attack. [US theory has always been not to provide a perfect defense, but simply to make a disarming first strike mathematically impossible. Russian fears have always been two-fold, that without a disarming first strike they would have no political leverage, and that if the US did achieve anything close to a perfect defense it would launch its own attack.] A US study group has suggested that the Russian Topol-M be allowed to carry two warheads; a Russian study group wants three or four warheads for this road-mobile missile. --Stephen V Cole


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