Jeffrey LewisCrazy Ivan

Linda Rothstein at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists suggests that Putin’s recent reference to “future weapons … which other nuclear powers do not and will not possess” is a reference to the “testing of a new hypersonic ‘Crazy Ivan’ warhead that follows a nonclassical scenario, changing flight altitude and course repeatedly, making it nearly impossible to track and target.”

That seems as plausible to me as anything else.

So what is my value added here?

About a year ago (December 2003), a source on the Russian General Staff told Interfax that every Topol-M will be outfitted with a system for penetrating ant- missile defense, including the capability of launching decoys. Then the money quote:

“Presently Topol-Ms have a 60-65 percent capacity for penetrating U.S. missile defense systems. This figure will rise to 87 percent soon.” [CEP-2003-12-22-000105 Moscow Interfax in English 1157 GMT 22 Dec 03]

Apparently, the source is reporting on a briefing (in Russian) that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov gave Putin.

Update: Noah Shachtman mentions this on

Update on the Update: And Wade Boese was all over this in March.