Making Sense of the “Super Fuse” Scare
By The Saker via Paul Craig Roberts 5/11/2017 [Full original column]
For weeks now I have been getting panicked emails with readers asking me whether the USA had developed a special technology called “super fuses” which would make it possible for the USA to successfully pull-off a (preemptive) disarming first strike against Russia. Super-fuses were also mentioned in combination with an alleged lack by Russia of a functioning space-based infrared early warning system giving the Russians less time to react to a possible US nuclear attack.
While there is a factual basis to all this, the original report already mislead the reader with a shocking title “How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze” and by offering several unsubstantiated conclusions. Furthermore, this original report was further discussed by many observers who simply lack the expertise to understand what the facts mentioned in the report really mean. Then the various sources started quoting each other and eventually this resulted in a completely baseless “super fuse scare”. Let’s try to make some sense of all this.
Understanding nuclear strikes and their targets
To understand what really has taken place I need to first define a couple of crucial terms:
- Hard-target kill capability: this refers to the capability of a missile to destroy a strongly protected target such as a underground missile silo or a deeply buried command post.
- Soft-target kill capability: the capability to destroy lightly or unprotected targets.
- Counterforce strike: this refers to a strike aimed at the enemy’s military capabilities.
- Countervalue strike: this refers to a strike on non-military assets such as cities.