Strategic Weapons: September 7, 2002


Russia has reversed its previous announcement, saying that it now plans to keep SS-18 Satan heavy ICBMs with multiple warheads in service as the mainstay of its nuclear deterrent through 2016. Previously, Russia had said it would get rid of the huge SS-18s by 2007. Russia originally deployed 180 of these missiles (each with ten nuclear warheads but now has only 144. The US considered these missiles dangerously destabilizing because the Russians could have quickly refitted them with as many as 30 warheads instead of 10, giving them a sudden increase of 3,600 deployed warheads that the US would need a decade to match by building hundreds of new missiles.--Stephen V Cole


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