SM-3 IIA are still unable to change strategic balance

24.11.2020

On the November 16 the U.S. conducted a successful test of the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor missile. The target of interceptor missile imitated an ICBM. The editorial board decided to talk to an expert about the way such test may influence strategic stability.  During the interview Oleg Krivolapov, research fellow of the Institute of USA and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Nikita Degtyarev, Coordinatorof the PIR CenterInformation & Publications Program, about the influence of the SM-3 Block IIA test on strategic stability, threat to Russian strategic systems and the future of the U.S. antimissile system.

“The architecture of the U.S. national antimissile system consists mostly of Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI) – there are 44 of them now and the majority of them are deployed in Alaska. Their goal is to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles. The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor missile test proved that it can intercept ICBMs. As Americans say, the goal is to protect Hawaii from the North Korean strike. However it does not exclude possibility of intercepting ICBMs of other countries. If there is a nuclear missile strike conducted with ICBMs, the SM-3 IIA interceptors based on ships in Atlantic and Pacific oceans could take upa part of «workload», thus assisting the main GBIs deployed in Alaska.

It is too early to state that Russia and China would be unable to conduct a retaliatory nuclear strike, should the U.S. conduct the first nuclear strike. The strategic stability won’t cease to exist. It is one thing to intercept an aim with characteristics of an ICBM, but it is an entirely different thing to intercept an ICBM which will use means to overcome missile defense (such as false targets) during combat. In other words, SM-3 IIA still cannot affect the strategic balance in the short and medium term.”

Oleg Shakirovwent into the matter of the UN political disagreements regarding actual cyber agenda: “On Monday, there was a voting in the First committee of the UN General Assembly regarding the projects of two resolutions on international information security sponsored by Russia and the U.S. respectively. Both resolutions were supported by a majority of voters and will be considered during the GA plenary meeting. However the voting in the First committee showed existing political disagreements regarding the cyber agenda”.

Artem Kvartalnov reported on the perspectives of the further development of the low-yield warheads for submarine-launched ballistic missiles: “In the beginning of the year 2020 the U.S. Department of Defense reported on deployment of the new low-yield nuclear warheads W76-2 designed for submarine-launched ballistic missiles. This step was a result of many years of discussions about existence of capability gap between Moscow and Washington and the Russian doctrine «escalation for de-escalation». Russian side denies existence of such doctrine and staged the U.S. discussions as «outright example of unwillingness» to hear Russia. However, the W76-2 project faced an ambiguous reaction in the U.S. as well”

The issue is available here. Since 2000, the subscriptionand archive of issues are available on the newsletter page.

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