Saturday, April 23, 2016
The Post-Cold War Arms Race
By Jim Emerson, staff writer
With the ending of the Cold War the United States and Russia reduced their nuclear weapons arsenals. Both sides reduced development of newer weapons and cleaned up areas where the warheads were built and developed. However, ambitious countries have stepped up their nuclear weapons and delivery systems. They include North Korea, Iran and especially China. During a time when Obama is further downsizing the American arsenal, China is participating in a new arms race.
The week China’s Defense Ministry confirmed that it test-fired its newest long-range missile into the South China sea. This test was unique because the missile carried two dummy warheads, proving that China is able to utilize multiple, independently-targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs. The DF-41 is China newest long-range nuclear delivery missile and is capable of striking any location in the United States.
The DF-41 missile has been under development for the past several years and analysts believe that design will eventually make it possible to carry six to ten warheads. It has an estimated range of up to 7,456 miles, enabling it to strike over the North Pole or across the Pacific Ocean. The DF-41 is nearing deployment and is mobile.
A CIA report stated that during the 1990s Chinese espionage agents acquired details of every nuclear warhead developed by the United States including small warheads used for submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The Chinese will most likely use the stolen warhead designs to arm the DF-41s. MIRVs and ultra-high-speed maneuvering delivery vehicles are currently being built by China and Russia to defeat American anti-ballistic missile systems.
Unlimited proliferation of nuclear weapons is taking place in countries with no moral compass; nations that would permit the use of such weapons as a matter of religious doctrine. These nations are pushing ahead with the development of weapons delivery systems designed specifically to defeat current anti-missile defense systems.
Aware of new threats, the director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency asked for $23 million to “begin a low-power laser…this year to demonstrate [its] feasibility” against modern nuclear warhead designs. Adm. James Syring told the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces that his agency lacked funding to counter hypersonic missile threats. Existing missile defenses are only capable of countering limited missile strikes from North Korea and soon Iran.
Current American missile defenses were designed to intercept long-range missiles with predictable trajectories. They are not capable of handling MIRVs or ultra-high-speed, maneuvering delivery vehicles (hypersonic gliders). Because our current, defensive weapons aren’t capable of taking out such targets, laser systems will likely become America’s best defense. But we need a president who will fund their development.