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A New U.S. Missile Defense Test May Have Increased the Risk of Nuclear War

A New U.S. Missile Defense Test May Have Increased the Risk of Nuclear War,
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


A November 2020 U.S. missile defense test stands to upend strategic stability and complicate future arms control. The test marks a crossing of the Rubicon, with irreversible implications.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has confirmed that, for the first time, a Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IIA interceptor successfully destroyed an intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) target in a test. With this milestone, the SM-3 Block IIA becomes only the second U.S. interceptor type to exhibit this capability. The consequences for strategic stability and future arms control are serious.  ………………………………..
To avoid this mutually undesirable arms race, the United States should take Russian and Chinese concerns seriously and address them in good faith. Additionally, unilateral gestures, such as a declaration by the president of the United States that the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons will be to deter nuclear war, may have value in reducing Russian and Chinese concerns about a U.S. first strike. Separately, by adopting an arms control approach to reducing nuclear risks with North Korea, the United States could consider capping homeland missile defense capabilities at current levels in exchange for a freeze on Pyongyang’s strategic missile production.

Ultimately, the consequences of the technical demonstration in FTM-44 will be challenging to reverse. This genie has left the bottle and the consequences for future arms control and strategic stability will be significant.

November 21, 2020 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

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