Making sense of the “super fuse” scare 

Source: The Unz Review, by The Saker

For weeks now I have been getting panicked emails with readers asking me whether the USA had developed a special technology called “super fuses” which would make it possible for the USA to successfully pull-off a (preemptive) disarming first strike against Russia. Super-fuses were also mentioned in combination with an alleged lack by Russia of a functioning space-based infrared early warning system giving the Russians less time to react to a possible US nuclear attack.

While there is a factual basis to all this, the original report already mislead the reader with a shocking title “How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze” and by offering several unsubstantiated conclusions. Furthermore, this original report was further discussed by many observers who simply lack the expertise to understand what the facts mentioned in the report really mean. Then the various sources started quoting each other and eventually this resulted in a completely baseless “super fuse scare”. Let’s try to make some sense of all this.

Understanding nuclear strikes and their targets

To understand what really has taken place I need to first define a couple of crucial terms:

  • Hard-target kill capability: this refers to the capability of a missile to destroy a strongly protected target such as a underground missile silo or a deeply buried command post.
  • Soft-target kill capability: the capability to destroy lightly or unprotected targets.
  • Counterforce strike: this refers to a strike aimed at the enemy’s military capabilities.
  • Countervalue strike: this refers to a strike on non-military assets such as cities.

Since strategic nuclear missile silos and command posts are well protected and deeply buried, only hard-target kill (HTK) capable missiles can execute a counterforce strike. Soft-target kill (STK) capable systems are therefore usually seen as being the ultimate retaliatory capability to hit the enemies cities. The crucial notion here is that HTK capability is not a function of explosive power, but of accuracy. Yes, in theory, a hugely powerful weapon can compensate to some degree for a lack of accuracy, but in reality both the USA and the USSR/Russia have long understood that the real key to HTK is accuracy.

During the Cold War, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were more accurate than submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) simply because targeting from the surface and from a fixed position was much easier than targeting from inside a submerged and moving submarine. The American were the first to successfully deploy a HTK capable SLBM with their Trident D-5. The Russians have only acquired this capability very recently (with their R-29RMU Sineva SLBM).

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists just a decade ago only 20% of US SLBMs were HTK capable. Now, with the ‘super-fuse’ 100% of US SLBMs are HTK capable. What these super-fuses do is very accurately measure the optimal altitude at which to detonate thereby partially compensating for a lack of accuracy of a non-HTK capable weapon. To make a long story short, these super-fuses made all US SLBMs HTK capable.

Does that matter?

Yes and no. What that means on paper is that the US has just benefited from a massive increase in the number of US missiles with HTK capability. Thus, the US has now a much larger missile force capable of executing a disarming counterforce strike. In reality, however, things are much more complicated than that.

Understanding counterforce strikes

Executing a disarming counterforce strike against the USSR and, later, Russia has been an old American dream. Remember Reagan’s “Star Wars” program? The idea behind it was simple: to develop the capability to intercept enough incoming Soviet warheads to protect the USA from a retaliatory Soviet counter strike. It would work something like this: destroy, say, 70% of the Soviet ICBM/SLBMs and intercept the remaining 30% before they can reach the USA. This was total nonsense both technologically (the technology did not exist) and strategically (just a few Soviet “leakers” could wipe-out entire US cities, who could take such a risk?). The more recent US deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems in Europe has exactly the same purpose – to protect the USA from a retaliatory counterstrike. Without going into complex technical discussions, let’s just say that this point in time, this system would never protect the USA from anything. But in the future, we could imagine such a scenario


The real danger to our planet comes not from a sudden technological breakthrough which would make nuclear war safe, but from the demented filled minds of the US Neocons who believe that they can bring Russia to heel in a game of “nuclear chicken”. These Neocons have apparently convinced themselves that making conventional threats against Russia, such as unilaterally imposing no-fly zones over Syria, does not bring us closer to a nuclear confrontation. It does.

The Neocons love to bash the United Nations in general, and the veto power of the Permanent Five (P5) at the UN Security Council, but they apparently forgot the reason why this veto power was created in the first place: to outlaw any action which could trigger a nuclear war. Of course, this assumes that the P5 all care about international law. Now that the USA has clearly become a rogue state whose contempt for international law is total, there is no legal mechanism left to stop the US from committing actions which endanger the future of mankind. This is what is really scary, not “super-fuses”.

What we are facing today is a nuclear rogue state run by demented individuals who, steeped in a culture of racial superiority, total impunity and imperial hubris, are constantly trying to bring us closer to a nuclear war. These people are not constrained by anything, not morals, not international law, not even common sense or basic logic. In truth, we are dealing with a messianic cult every bit as insane as the one of Jim Jones or Adolf Hitler and like all self-worshiping crazies they profoundly believe in their invulnerability.

It is the immense sin of the so-called “Western world” that it let these demented individuals take control with little or no resistance and that now almost the entire western society lack the courage to even admit that it surrendered itself to what I can only call a satanic cult. Alexander Solzhenitsyn prophetic words spoken in 1978 have now fully materialized:

A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today. The Western world has lost its civic courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, in each government, in each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elites, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society. There are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life (Harvard Speech, 1978)

Five years later, Solzhenitsyn warned us again saying,

To the ill-considered hopes of the last two centuries, which have reduced us to insignificance and brought us to the brink of nuclear and non-nuclear death, we can propose only a determined quest for the warm hand of God, which we have so rashly and self-confidently spurned. Only in this way can our eyes be opened to the errors of this unfortunate twentieth century and our hands be directed to setting them right. There is nothing else to cling to in the landslide: the combined vision of all the thinkers of the Enlightenment amounts to nothing. Our five continents are caught in a whirlwind. But it is during trials such as these that the highest gifts of the human spirit are manifested. If we perish and lose this world, the fault will be ours alone.

We have been warned, but will we heed that warning?

Read Full Article Here: Making sense of the “super fuse” scare – The Unz Review

Categories: Neocons, Nuclear, World at WAR

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