Author`s name Alexander Shtorm

Nuclear arsenals of Russia and China will surpass that of USA by 600 percent

The new arms race between Russia and the United States has been gathering pace for a few years now. At the same time, the leaders of the two countries have always specified nuclear deterrence conditions in separate agreements. 

The USA signed the first arms agreement with the Soviet Union in 1972. The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT-1) legitimized a fivefold increase in the number of Soviet and US nuclear warheads.

Despite the scale, the parties considered the agreement a harbinger of the new era of peaceful coexistence.

The SALT-2 Treaty of 1979 launched the growth in the number of strategic nuclear systems (long-range complexes), bringing them to almost 12,000 warheads. Accordingly, the entire Soviet nuclear arsenal had then been estimated at about 35,000 warheads.

In the process of negotiations on START-1 and START-2 treaties in 1991 and 1993, the United States and Russia managed to agree to reduce the number of strategic nuclear warheads.

In signing such documents, the ability of the United States to protect itself from the termination of arms reduction treaties was crucial, Peter R. Huessy, the President of Geostrategic Analysis in Maryland recalls.

After the collapse of the USSR, the United States has neither replaced nor upgraded its missiles. It was clear that the emergence of problems was only a matter of time.

US Congress shelved the project for the new ground-based missile outfitted with the Peacekeeper 10 warhead and aborted the Midgetman small intercontinental ballistic missile project.

If the process had continued, Russia and the United States would have reduced their arms by ten folds. The Russian Parliament (the State Duma) rejected the START-2 treaty, and the United States was unable to resolve the issue with ground-based missiles.

If we go back to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, each party to the treaty could have deployed a hundred interceptors to protect their capitals. Yet, the United States did not want to achieve that, because defending only Washington was unsportsmanlike behavior.

After the Moscow Treaty of 2002 and the new START of 2010, the number of nuclear warheads deployed by the United States and Russia decreased even more from 6,000 (START-1 level) to 2,200, and then to 1,550.

The United States had been acting from this perspective until 2002, when Washington finally abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Later, many experts claimed that the Americans were in need of a reliable and sufficient security potential.

Today, it is the availability of a high-speed intercontinental ballistic missile that makes a big difference. This is the point where the United States faces two major problems.

The United States is at least aware that there are about 350-400 new missile silos in China, located as a network at a distance of about three kilometers from each other. The new launchers are designed for DF-41 missiles, which carry up to ten warheads. 

All reductions have brought the United States to the point where it was left with practically no intercontinental ballistic missiles. This is the problem that the USA has created for itself. 

According to Peter R. Huessy, it is vital for the United States to continue working with ground-based deterrents. They meet deterrence requirements of the strategic command. In addition, their maintenance will be much cheaper.

One has to do something about the problem of ballistic missiles, the sooner the better. Today, the United States is only a little behind Russia in terms of the number of warheads. 

"Alongside China, America’s two nuclear-armed enemies would have combined strategic nuclear warheads some 600 percent greater than the United States. If compared by the number of nuclear weapons that are on alert on a day-to-day basis, the imbalance reaches on the order of 1,000 percent," Peter R. Huessy wrote for The National Interest.

Russian nuclear weapons
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