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Ritter Describes How U.S. Successful Intercept of ICBM Brings World Closer to Nuclear War

Nov. 19, 2020 (EIRNS)—Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, in an op-ed posted in RT on Nov. 17, warned that the successful test of an SM-3 Block IIA missile interceptor against an ICBM target from an Aegis-equipped destroyer on Nov. 16 has proven that Russian concerns that the NATO BMD installations in Poland and Romania threaten their nuclear deterrent potential, are correct.

“Russia has long held that the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems in Europe represented a major alteration of the strategic balance of power, insofar as it empowered a potential U.S./NATO nuclear first strike scenario, in which U.S. nuclear-armed missiles would be launched against Russian strategic nuclear forces in an effort to pre-emptively destroy them,” he wrote. “Europe would then avoid the certainty of mutually assured destruction by hiding behind the U.S. missile defense shield, which in theory would be capable of shooting down the handful of Russian missiles that might survive such an attack.”

Ritter called the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor “a great threat to Russia,” and declares that

“Russia has long linked further progress in arms control to the need for the U.S. to agree to limitations on its ballistic missile defense capabilities to prevent the very situation that is unfolding today. By putting the SM-3 Black IIA interceptor to the test as an anti-ICBM weapon, the U.S. has made the New START treaty irrelevant overnight, testing the willingness of Russia to agree to an extension,”

Ritter continued.

“Even if Russia does allow the New START treaty to be extended, there is little doubt that it will insist on meaningful and verifiable limits to U.S. ballistic missile defense capabilities, including the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, before Russia could sign on to a new follow-on strategic arms reduction treaty.”

He concluded:

“The combination of low-yield nuclear weapons on board U.S. submarines lurking off Russia’s coast, with U.S. destroyers equipped to shoot down Russian ICBMs, is the stuff of any Russian nuclear planner’s worst nightmare. Russia will most likely be compelled to reexamine its alert posture to account for the increased possibility that the U.S. may seek to launch a pre-emptive decapitation attack using low-yield nuclear weapons. This means that Russia will be compelled to react quickly to any detection event suggestive of such a strike, reducing the time for leaders to consider the possibility of error before giving the order to launch. In short, while the U.S. may claim that the SM-3 Block IIA is a defensive weapon that creates stability in regional and global security, the exact opposite is the case—the SM-3 Block IIA increases the chance for inadvertent nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia. This is never a good outcome.”

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