Pentagon's new concept: what will Russia respond with?


MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik)

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) has proposed that Washington make changes to its strategy of nuclear deterrence.

Instead of destroying Russian cities, the report on a possible new nuclear doctrine for the U.S. recommends targeting missiles at key economic facilities with a view to paralyzing the Russian economy.

FAS is one of the most respected and long-standing U.S. NGOs. It was formed by participants in the Manhattan A-Bomb Project in 1945 as a "federation of atomic scientists." It deals with research into nuclear deterrence and disarmament and global nuclear and military balance.

FAS experts believe that the current doctrine, which provides for targeting ballistic missiles at the enemy's nuclear forces and major cities, has become obsolete. To cause irreparable damage, it is enough to destroy key economic facilities, which will deprive the enemy of its capability for war.

A list of potential targets for effective deterrence consists of 12 facilities, primarily metallurgical plants, such as the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works, Evraz Metallurgical Works in Nizhny Tagil, and Severstal Metallurgical Plant, the Mining and Metallurgical Company Norilsk Nickel, and RusAL's aluminum plants in Bratsk and Novokuznetsk.

In addition, the list includes three oil refineries - in Omsk (Gazpromneft), Angara (Rosneft), and in Kirishi (Surgutneftegaz), and electricity generating facilities - the Berezovskaya GRES (a district power plant belonging to OGK-4, in which the German E.ON is the main shareholder), the Sredneuralsk GRES (OGK-5 and the Italian Enel, respectively), and Gazprom OGK's GRES-1 in Surgut, and the E.ON OGK-4's Surgut GRES-2.

In general, the gist of this concept is not new. Cold War plans for nuclear deterrence also provided for the destruction of key economic targets, along with the annihilation of the enemy's military potential and manpower.

The only change is the admission of the fact that to cause irreparable damage to a modern industrialized state it is not at all necessary to destroy tens of millions of its citizens and all of its armed forces. It is enough to paralyze its economy to deprive it of its capability to fight a war. An economic collapse with all of its consequences will destroy as many people as direct nuclear bombing.

The United States is building its new concept upon a mooted substantial reduction of its own and Russia's nuclear potentials. Considering the development of its missile defense and its major conventional superiority, the United States stands to gain from a reduction in the level of nuclear confrontation, which would allow it to expect victory in a potential nuclear war.

In the meantime, Russia gains nothing from this reduction. It cannot afford to have a nuclear potential that can be intercepted by American missile defense. It can parry the new U.S. military doctrine by a firm position on strategic offensive arms limitation talks with the United States.

Russia's interest in these talks could be determined by four conditions.

First, a clear restriction on the top and bottom ceilings of nuclear potentials. It needs to limit the top ceiling to avoid being involved in a new expensive nuclear arms race, and to restrict the lower ceiling to prevent it being reduced to a level that can be intercepted by missile defense.

Second, Russia needs a reduction in and rigid limitation on what is called retrievable potential (depot-based warheads and carriers).

Third, a limitation on the development of missile defense systems, which rules out protection against a massive MIRVed ICBM ballistic strike. At the same time, restrictions should allow the development of defense systems that protect against attacks by medium- and shorter-range missiles, and single ICBM launches.

Finally, Russia is interested in restrictions on the deployment of conventional long-range precision weapons (cruise missiles), which could be used to destroy the enemy's nuclear forces.

Upholding these positions will allow Russia to preserve its potential as one of the world's two leading nuclear powers, despite the adoption of the new doctrine. Otherwise, its nuclear potential will no longer guarantee its security against a nuclear attack.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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