From Russia, With MIRVs

The Bush Adminstration has said, time and time again, that the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, or SORT, more commonly known as the Moscow Treaty, shows that relations with Russia are just fine. This came up, naturally, in the context of the Bush administration’s withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which prohibited nationwide missile defenses.

The problem is, time and again, Russia makes concerted efforts to maintain a robust nuclear threat against the United States. (And, of course, the United States does the same.) (Except, you know, against Russia.)

This was highlighted most recently by another announcement that Russia intends to maintain what U.S. analysts call the SS-18 “Satan” ICBM, the heaviest rocket in Russia’s strategic forces, carrying 10 warheads each.

Getting rid of this monster (and getting rid of its American equivalent, the “Peacekeeper,”) was the driving goal of U.S. arms negotiators from the day the first negotiation on nuclear forces started.

But of course, in the happy go lucky Bush adminstration, it’s every man for himself! We will reduce our deployed forces even if you don’t, so we really don’t need to bother with that pesky verification stuff. It’s too hard. Work is hard. Agreeing is hard.

So, don’t bother. Freedom of action is good. Constraint on the United States is bad.

So, because we can’t constrain ourselves, we can’t constrain anyone else. (Unless of course we invade them.)

This administration could not plan itself out of a wet paper bag. So, if relations are (or were, prior to Iraq) so good with Russia, take the time to put in writing an agreement that might hold when relations aren’t so good. Common sense.

I also want to plug the excellent resource, Russian strategic nuclear forces. It’s a lovely website, with lots of good information. If I find time, I’d like to do a more detailed version of this post, with information on manuevering warheads and others such stuff, and I would rely on that source for much information.

And of course, to some extent, this post contradicts Jeffrey’s recent writing on Russia’s declining submarine patrols. More discussion to follow.

PS: More shameless self-promotion: CNN yesterday ran the UCS animation on the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, with voiceover by moi, explaining how, no matter how big the bomb is, it can’t reach deep enough to attack bunkers built with regular mining technology:

It’s not the answer. What they’re trying to destroy are bunkers underground. Simple fact is, physics tells you that if you put a bunker 300 meters underground, it doesn’t matter how big the bomb is. It still can’t reach that bunker. It’s just too deep; it’s too far away from the explosion. It’s safe. So it’s an endless chase we can’t win.


  1. Michael Roston (History)

    Yes, here are some more of John Bolton’s greatest hits, evidence of his “vast experience… his willingness to confront difficult problems head-on,” and his insistence “upon results” as the POTUS highlighted.

    First, Secretary of State Colin Powell explained before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 9, 2002 his desire to “particularly…single out Undersecretary John Bolton who is here with me this morning and who was the principle negotiator on the Moscow Treaty, and through this means, to thank John and the members of his staff, many of whom are present here, for the fine work that they did in bringing this treaty into being.”

    But before any of that went down, Bolton assured the same committee on July 24, 2001, that “the question of what the Russian perception is of our missile defense program is, of course, a very important one. If their perception is inaccurate, in the sense that they do not appreciate what we have said that the system is designed to protect against—that is to say, handfuls of missiles launched by rogue states or accidental launches—if they do not share or appreciate that perception, it is then our task to disabuse them of their misperception.”

    Of course, he then added “I do not believe that we should base our defense policies on the acceptance of somebody else’s misperception of the facts.”

    Which is to say he doesn’t really care if there are more accidents-waiting-to-happen being pointed at us, and neither does anyone else in the White House.