The U.S. developed a nuclear-powered cruise missile in the 1960s, but it was canceled it because, well, it was insane. The nuclear-powered ramjet was literally deafening to people on the ground and left a trail of radioactivity from the unshielded reactor. The United States couldn’t even find a suitable place to fight-test this monster. Officials worried that if it went off course from the Nevada nuclear test site, it might crash into Las Vegas.
Putin says Russia has already tested its version. The U.S. intelligence community, in return, says the Russian missile crashed in testing. Maybe the Russians have developed a new nuclear-powered turbofan engine that poses fewer problems than the United States’ ramjet. Or maybe, if you find yourself visiting Russia, you might want to consider lead underwear.
All of these Russian systems predated Donald Trump and his dumb Nuclear Posture Review. In fact, all of these systems were known to the Barack Obama administration — even the cruise missile, which I now realize in retrospect some U.S. officials had been hinting at for some time.
The real genesis of Russia’s new generation of bizarre nuclear weapons lies not in the most recent Nuclear Posture Review, but in the George W. Bush administration’s decision in 2001 to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the bipartisan failure by both the Bush and Obama administrations to engage meaningfully with the Russians over their concerns about American missile defenses. [Continue reading…]
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