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Without rehashing the whole article by Lieber and Press, as well as the extended discussion in a following issue of Foreign Affairs, it's worth noticing that Putin is talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis without any of the obvious motives you attribute to Russian generals looking for a bigger slice of the budget, and that Arbatov basically agrees with the assessment by Lieber and Press.

Not even the unspeakable Secretary Flory disputes the main facts about the deterioration of the Russian nuclear arsenal, especially the assertion by Lieber and Press that all nine of Russia's nuclear submarines are sometimes sitting simultaneously in port.

The erratic quality of Russian satellites opens a lot of little windows of opportunity, and their communication links are especially vulnerable to jamming.  When Putin talks about the current situation as a technological equivalent of the Cuban Missilie crisis, that's part of what he means.

(I only posted on European Tribune out of admiration for Jerome, and the rest of it is just a sad joke.)

by Jacob Freeze on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 10:58:30 AM EST
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Discussing improvements in US submarine-based missiles, Lieber and Press write:
The result of these upgrades is stunning. During the last years of the Cold War, a U.S. SLBM warhead had roughly a 12 percent chance of destroying a hardened Russian ICBM silo. Of the two types of U.S. submarine-launched warheads currently deployed, one has about a 90 percent likelihood of destroying such a silo and the other has a 98 percent chance. Despite such progress, the United States continues to improve the lethality of its SLBMs. These steps are unnecessary for deterrence and strongly suggest a desire for nuclear primacy. Only such a goal would justify additional upgrades to U.S. counterforce capabilities.

The Russians have 3500 nuclear warheads, but the number of silo emplacements is in the hundreds. That number is well within the range of possible destruction by submarine launched MIRV vehicles, without relying either on land-based ICBM's or cruise missiles.

(I only posted on European Tribune out of admiration for Jerome, and the rest of it is just a sad joke.)

by Jacob Freeze on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 11:49:08 AM EST
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