Putin Nukes Florida

Written by Jason Simpkins
Posted March 8, 2018 at 7:00PM

Vladimir Putin stood at a pristine white podium, addressing the collective Russian government — oligarchs and all — as well as millions of Russians watching the State of the Nation address at home.

A screen behind him showed a computer-generated simulation of a nuclear attack, with a barrage of missiles pouring down on the Florida peninsula.

“With the new system, there is no limitation,” said Putin. “As you can see from this video, it can attack any target through the North Pole or via the South Pole. No missile defense system will be able to withstand it.”

“It has unlimited range, so it can keep going like this forever,” he went on. “As you understand, this is unheard of and no one has this system in the world. They may come up with something like this in the future, but by that time our guys will come up with some new ideas as well.”

By “they,” of course, the Russian president was referring to the United States. Putin made that clear as he lamented America’s withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002.

Nuke Florida

Signed at the height of the Cold War, the treaty was meant to rein in the nuclear arms race. It barred both superpowers from deploying national defenses against long-range ballistic missiles and from building the foundation for such a defense.

But 18 years ago, it was abandoned by the administration of George W. Bush. Russia responded by reinvigorating its own nuclear program. And it’s made great strides.

With at least 7,300 extremely advanced nuclear weapons, Russia has the largest nuclear stockpile of any nation in the world. The U.S. comes in second, with about 7,000.

That includes a newly-developed nuclear warhead capable of breaching U.S. missile defenses.

Originally known as “Object 4202,” Russia’s hypersonic warhead goes 15 times faster than the speed of sound, is capable of evading any anti-missile system the U.S. has, and carries multiple warheads that can split into 15 individual bombs. Each would destroy an area the size of Texas and the bomb could arrive from a silo in Russia within 12 minutes.

Now called the RS-28 Sarmat, it was tested in December and is expected to enter service by 2020, replacing Soviet-era RS-36M Voyevoda ICBMs.

Russia has also deployed intermediate-range nuclear weapons that could attack Europe. This violates the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, in which Moscow and Washington agreed to eliminate all their land-based nuclear missiles that could hit targets within 3,400 miles.

Indeed, the difference between long- and intermediate-range missiles is that intermediate missiles can hit their target before it can retaliate. If Russia launches a nuke at the United States, we’d still have enough time to deploy our weapons in retaliation. That’s not true of Europe.

What are the odds that Russia would do that?

Higher than you probably think.

Vyacheslav Alekseyevich Nikonov, a member of Russia's lower house of parliament and a political scientist involved with Russian politics since the 1970s, recently argued Russia would need to utilize some form of nuclear warfare to deter U.S. or NATO forces from invading, should they decide to enter Crimea or eastern Ukraine.

"On the issue of NATO expansion on our borders, at some point I heard from the Russian military — and I think they are right — if U.S. forces, NATO forces, are, were, in the Crimea, in eastern Ukraine, Russia is undefendable militarily in case of conflict without using nuclear weapons in the early stage of the conflict," Nikonov said.

Nikonov cited 400 points of NATO military installations near its borders, some armed with nuclear weapons, and said the West was "not just a force for good."

Other Russian threats have been more pointed and less rational.

"Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash," Dmitry Kiselyov (Russia’s Sean Hannity) said on his weekly current affairs show. Behind him was a backdrop of a mushroom cloud following a nuclear blast.

Of course, this Cold War mentality isn’t unique to Russia.

The United States is turning the clock back, too.

Donald Trump has made updating and expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal a focal point of his defense policy.

During a gathering of national security officials in July 2017, Trump said he wanted the U.S. to boost its active stockpile to 1960s levels — a tenfold increase.

Trump Nuke Tweet 2

“We're never going to fall behind any country, even if it's a friendly country, we're never going to fall behind on nuclear power," Trump said. "It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack."

Not only that, he wants to make nukes easier to use. He wants to use them in situations that are less than retaliatory, perhaps even against other countries that don’t possess them. That’s not just bluster, either. It was the standing position articulated in the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) earlier this year.

The NPR also calls for the development of a new generation of “low-yield” nuclear weapons — smaller, tactical nukes to be deployed on a battlefield, rather than a city.

As with Russia, that could mean deploying them in Europe.

“Europe is a big place. I’m not going to take cards off the table,” Trump told Fox News. “We have nuclear capability… The thought of it is horrible. But I don’t want to take anything off the table.”

Indeed, it is a horrible thought, but that’s the new reality. It’s a new Cold War. And soon, children in U.S. schools might not just be climbing under their desks for active shooter drills.

Fight on,

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Jason Simpkins

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Jason Simpkins is Assistant Managing Editor of the Outsider Club and Investment Director of The Wealth Warrior, a financial advisory focused on security companies and defense contractors. For more on Jason, check out his editor's page. 

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