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The US nuclear aresenal is becoming more destructive and possibly more risky

THE US NUCLEAR ARSENAL IS BECOMING MORE DESTRUCTIVE AND POSSIBLY MORE RISKY,  Center for Public Integrity,  R. Jeffrey Smith 29 Oct 21, A little-noticed, new fuze that better controls a nuclear blast’s timing will enable the United States to more easily destroy protected targets in other countries. 
R. Jeffrey Smith  A sophisticated electronic sensor buried in hardened metal shells at the tip of a growing number of America’s ballistic missiles reflects a significant achievement in weapons engineering that experts say could help pave the way for reductions in the size of the country’s nuclear arsenal but also might create new security perils.

The wires, sensors, batteries, and computing gear now being quietly installed on hundreds of the most powerful U.S. warheads give them an enhanced ability to detonate with what the military considers exquisite timing over some of the world’s most challenging targets, substantially increasing the probability that in the event of a major conflict, those targets would be destroyed in a radioactive rain of fire, heat, and unearthly explosive pressures.

The new components — which determine and set the best height for a nuclear blast — are now being paired with other engineering enhancements that collectively increase what military planners refer to as the individual nuclear warheads’ “hard target kill capability.” This gives them an improved ability to destroy Russian and Chinese nuclear-tipped missiles and command posts in hardened silos or mountain sanctuaries, or to obliterate hardened military command and storage bunkers in North Korea, also considered a potential U.S. nuclear target.

The increased destructiveness of the new warheads means that in some cases fewer weapons could be needed to ensure that all the objectives in the nation’s nuclear targeting plans are fully met, opening a path to future shrinkage of the overall arsenal, current and former U.S. officials said in a series of interviews, in which some spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive technology……..

Georgetown University professor Keir Lieber, and Dartmouth University associate professor Daryl Press, a consultant to the Defense Department, have estimated that the fuzes have roughly doubled the destructive power of the U.S. submarine fleet alone. …………..

Georgetown University professor Keir Lieber, and Dartmouth University associate professor Daryl Press, a consultant to the Defense Department, have estimated that the fuzes have roughly doubled the destructive power of the U.S. submarine fleet alone. ………….

Hans Kristensen, who monitors such technological efforts for the Federation of American Scientists, a nonprofit group in Washington, says that the warhead improvements in total look uncomfortably like new designs. He says in some ways this is not surprising: As the U.S. arsenal has shrunk by roughly a third due to arms agreements struck in the past two decades, “the engineers and weaponeers began looking for ways to enhance the capabilities of the weapons that would be left.” And the results, he said, “are so far removed from the Obama era’s limitation that [they are] one step short of a new nuclear weapon.” ………… https://publicintegrity.org/national-security/future-of-warfare/nuclear-weapon-arsenal-more-destructive-risky/

October 30, 2021 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

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