U.S. weapon designers may deserve a pat on the back for the sheer cleverness of an improved targeting system that is turning aging nuclear warheads into surgically precise weapons. But a new analysis warns of risky consequences. The fix, which has been developed quietly over 2 decades and is now being deployed on U.S. submarine–launched ballistic missiles, makes a small adjustment to the height at which a warhead explodes. The result is a dramatic improvement in the odds that the blast will destroy its target.
To Russia, whose defensive radars provide very short warning of a ballistic missile attack, the fix could raise fears that the United States is capable of launching a first strike that would knock out Russia’s silo-based nuclear missiles before they can be launched. That undermines nuclear deterrence and creates “a deeply destabilizing and dangerous strategic nuclear situation,” according to the report in the 1 March issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS).
Read the whole story here: More precise U.S. nukes could raise tensions with Russia | Science | AAAS