FIRST STRIKE SCENARIOS
Both the United States of America and the Russian
Federation now possess and, as before, will possess under the terms
of any possible future arms reduction agreements, large, diversified,
viable arsenals of strategic offensive weapons consisting of various
types of ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy
bombers. Specifically, Russia's proposal for START-III would make
it possible to have 1,500-2,000 warheads and even according to highly
conservative hypotheses, Russia and the United States could deploy
more than 1,000 ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles
with nuclear warheads over the next decade and thereafter.
- These strategic offensive forces give each side
the certain ability to carry out an annihilating counterattack on
the other side regardless of the conditions under which the war began.
- Forces of this size can easily penetrate a limited NMD system
of the type that the United States is now developing.
- Russia now keeps its strategic arsenal on constant alert and
apparently will do so even at START-III levels. Russian forces under
START-III could make an annihilating counterattack even under conditions
of a surprise disarming first strike by the USA in combination with
a limited US NMD system.
- As a result of this Russian response initiated from nuclear-powered
ballistic missile submarines at sea, land-based mobile missiles, silo-based
ICBMs and bombers that would survive the first strike, a minimum of
a few hundred warheads could be delivered. Moreover, Russian forces
have sophisticated decoy systems and other defense penetration aids,
and this means that it would not have to count on simply exhausting
defensive resources to overcome them. Furthermore, the surviving Russian
forces would be so large and sophisticated that they could carry out
an assault to enhance the offensive, which no rogue state would be
- Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that any enemy would ever
contemplate a first strike, since it would have to assume that Russian
ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles/nuclear-powered ballistic
missile submarines in port would be launched after tactical warning,
which would neutralize the effectiveness of the assault. In this case
Russia's response to an assault would obviously be to send about a
thousand warheads, together with two to three times more decoys, accompanied
by other advanced defense penetration aids.
- If an attempt at a disarming strike were made after a period
of increased international tension or conflict using conventional
weapons, Russia's counterattack would be considerable after the US
repulsed the first strike as a result of explicit steps that the Russian
armed forces would have taken to increase combat readiness by dispatching
an additional number of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines
out to sea, by field deployment of a large number of mobile missiles
and by putting bombers on takeoff alert.
- The planned American strategic nuclear forces deployed under
the START-III ceilings would also be able to be on constant alert
or on crisis alert to deliver many hundreds of warheads in response
to any assailant.
- Both the United States and the Russian Federation therefore
have solid capabilities to respond to a strike from any assailant
with a large number of retaliatory weapons.
- Furthermore, the tremendous risks associated with initiating
a nuclear war under any circumstances make these theoretical calculations
largely irrelevant. Obviously, neither side could ever contemplate
such an assault.