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Encyclopedia > First strike

In nuclear strategy, first strike capability is a country's ability to defeat another nuclear power by destroying its arsenal to the point where the attacking country can survive the weakened retaliation. The preferred methodology is to attack the opponent's launch facilities and storage depots first, in an overwhelming surprise attack -- hence the name. The strategy is called counterforce. Nuclear strategy involves the development of doctrines and strategies for the production and use of nuclear weapons. ... A nuclear power station. ... Counterforce refers to the military strategy of targeting ones forces on the forces of the enemy. ...


First strike and missile defense opposition

One reason that critics oppose missile defense systems, such as Reagan's proposed Strategic Defense Initiative, is that they view them as undermining one of the fundamental premises of mutual assured destruction: the proposed defense systems, intended to lessen the risk of devastating nuclear war, would lead to it, according to critics. Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975). ... The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), commonly called Star Wars after the popular science fiction movies of the time, was proposed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983[1] to use ground-based and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic... Mutual assured destruction (MAD) is a doctrine of military strategy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by one of two opposing sides would effectively result in the destruction of both the attacker and the defender. ... Nuclear War is a card game designed by Douglas Malewicki, and originally published in 1966. ...

The non-missile defense side, seeing that a nation was building a defense against a first strike and believing that the other could launch a first strike if it dared, would then launch a pre-emptive first strike while they still had a chance. The reasoning behind this is the claim that mutual destruction is better than defeat.

Counterforce disarming first-strike weapons

  • Peacekeeper. 10 MIRV warheads each with a 300 kt yield, CEP 100 m. Designed to destroy the heavy R-36M (SS-18). Decommissioned.
  • Trident II. Up to 14 warheads, 100/475 kt yield each, CEP 90 m. Main purpose is second-strike countervalue retaliation, but the excellent CEP and much shorter flight-time due to submarine launch makes it an ideal first-strike weapon.
  • Pershing II. single warhead, variable yield 5-50 kt, CEP 50 m with active radar terminal guidance. Short, 7-minute flight-time and range of 1 800 km, designed to strike C3 installations, bunkers, air fields, air defense sites, and ICBM silos in the European part of the Soviet Union. Decommissioned.
  • R-36M (SS-18). Single (20 Mt) or 10 MIRV (550-750 kt each) warheads, CEP 500 m. Targeted against Minuteman III silos.

Test launch of a Peacekeeper ICBM by the 1st Strategic Aerospace Division (1 STRAD), Vandenberg AFB, CA (USAF) The LGM-118A Peacekeeper was a land-based ICBM deployed by the United States starting in 1986. ... The Trident missile, named after the trident, is an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which is armed with nuclear warheads and is launched from submarines (SSBNs), making it a SLBM. The Trident was built in two variants: the I (C4) UGM-96A and II (D5) UGM-133A. The C4 and D5... The Pershing II Missile during a test flight The MGM-31 Pershing was a solid-fueled two-stage inertially guided medium range ballistic missile used by the U.S. Armys Missile Command. ... C3 or C-3 can refer to: C3 (complement), a component of the blood clotting control system C3 carbon fixation in plants C-3 Martin, a U.S. military transport aircraft HMS C3, a British C class submarine USS C-3 (SS-14), a U.S. C class submarine USS... The R-36 is a family of intercontinental ballistic missile and space launch vehicle designs created by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. ...

Destabilizing role of land-based MIRVed ICBMs

MIRVed land-based ICBMs are considered destabilizing because they tend to put a premium on striking first. When a missile is MIRVed, it is able to carry many warheads (3 to 14 in existing U.S. missiles) and deliver them to separate targets. If we assume that each side has 100 missiles, with 5 warheads each, and further that each side has a 95 percent chance of neutralising the opponent's missiles in their silos by firing 2 warheads at each silo. In this case, the side that strikes first can reduce the enemy ICBM force from 100 missiles to about 5 by firing 40 missiles with 200 warheads, and keeping the rest of 60 missiles in reserve. It is because of this that this type of weapon was banned under the START II agreement. Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... A Minuteman III missile soars after a test launch. ... For information on the explosive, see warhead. ... TARGET (Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System) is an interbank payment system for the real-time processing of cross-border transfers throughout the European Union. ... START II, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed by George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin in January 1993, which banned the use of MIRVs and hence often cited as De-MIRV-ing Agreement. ...

Soviet Union

First-strike attack, that is, the use of a nuclear first strike capability, was greatly feared during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War the Soviet Union feared the United States would use its nuclear superiority to devastate the motherland. At various points of the Cold War, fear of a first strike attack existed on both sides. Misunderstood changes in posture and well understood changes in technology used by either side were usually fuel on the fire of speculation regarding the enemy's intentions. For other uses, see Cold War (disambiguation). ... Combatants Major Allied powers: United Kingdom France Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Major Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Charles de Gaulle Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian... For other uses, see Cold War (disambiguation). ...

In 1982, at a special session of General Assembly of United Nations, the USSR pledged not to use nuclear weapons first, regardless of whether its opponents possessed nuclear weapons or not. This pledge was later abandoned by post-Soviet Russia. India and China are now the only nuclear powers that have declared a no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons. The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress and human rights issues. ...

In the 1940s the US enjoyed a monopoly of nuclear forces, while in the late 1950s and early 1960s Nikita Khrushchev boasted of a Soviet superiority in missile forces. The arrival of Soviet missiles in Cuba was ostensibly aimed to protect Cuba from further planned attacks from the United States after the failed Bay of pigs invasion. The movement of missiles was rationalized by the Soviets on the basis that the US already had nuclear missiles stationed in Turkey. The Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in Khrushchev publicly agreeing to remove the missiles from Cuba, while America secretly agreed to remove the missiles from Turkey. During the crisis, Fidel Castro wrote Khrushchev a letter about the prospect that the US might follow an invasion of Cuba with a first strike against the USSR. The following quotation from the letter suggests to some writers that Castro was calling for a Soviet first strike against the US. Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (Russian: ; IPA: ); surname more accurately romanized as Khrushchyov; April 17, 1894 [O.S. April 5]–September 11, 1971) was the leader of the Soviet Union after the death of Joseph Stalin. ... Combatants Cuba Cuban exiles trained by the United States Commanders Fidel Castro Jose Ramon Fernandez Ernesto Che Guevara Grayston Lynch Pepe San Roman Erneido Oliva Strength 51,000 1,500 Casualties 2,200; estimated 115 dead 1,189 captured Cuban poster warning before invasion showing a soldier armed with an... USAF spy photo of one of the suspected launch sites The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States regarding the Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba. ... Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (born on August 13, 1926) is the current President of Cuba but on indefinite medical hiatus. ...

"... the Soviet Union must never allow circumstances in which the imperialists could carry out a nuclear first strike against it."[1]

In the late 1970s and early 1980s the decision of NATO to deploy new intermediate nuclear forces through cruise and Pershing missiles (along with Ronald Reagan's talk of 'limited' nuclear war) increased Soviet fears that NATO was planning an attack. A Tomahawk cruise missile A cruise missile is a guided missile which uses a lifting wing and most often a jet propulsion system to allow sustained flight. ... Pershing was a family of solid-fueled two-stage medium-range ballistic missiles designed and built by Martin Marietta to replace the PGM-11 Redstone missile as the Armys primary theater-level weapon. ... Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975). ...

In fact Soviet military theory was dominated by the theory of the "deep operation" - a large scale armoured offensive into enemy-held territory - rather than a nuclear offensive. Soviet "conventional" superiority and the fact that the Soviet Union certainly considered the deep operation as a potential first strike weapon in a time of increased tension, increased NATO reliance on nuclear weapons.

Although neither side was actively pursuing a first-strike policy (since the time of Khrushchev, the leaders of orthodox communism believed that "peaceful coexistence" with the "imperialist" powers was possible) both sides relied on military strategies that could have still caused a general nuclear war. This article is about communism as a form of society and as a political movement. ... Peaceful coexistence was a theory developed during the Cold War among Communist states that they could peacefully coexist with capitalist states. ... Imperialism is the policy of extending the control or authority over foreign entities as a means of acquisition and/or maintenance of empires, either through direct territorial or through indirect methods of exerting control on the politics and/or economy of other countries. ...

Bertrand Russell advocated first strike on the USSR?

In an exchange of letters in The Economist magazine in 2001, Nigel Lawson, the former British Finance Minister, and Nicholas Griffin, of McMaster University, discussed a speech given in 1948 at Westminster School by the celebrated philosopher Bertrand Russell.[2] In answer to a question from the audience, Bertrand Russell said that if the USSR's aggression continued, it would be morally worse to go to war after the USSR possessed an atomic bomb than before they possessed one, because if the USSR had no bomb the West's victory would come more swiftly and with fewer casualties than if there were atom bombs on both sides. The Royal College of St. ...

To put this into context, only the USA possessed an atomic bomb at that time, and the USSR was pursuing an extremely aggressive policy towards the countries in Eastern Europe which it was absorbing into its sphere of influence. Many understood Russell's comments to mean that Russell approved of a First Strike war with the USSR, including Lawson, who was present when Russell spoke. Others, including Griffin who obtained a transcript of the speech, have argued that he was merely explaining the usefulness of America's atomic arsenal in deterring the USSR from continuing its domination of Eastern Europe. In short, one group of people believe Russell wanted to use the atomic bomb militarily before it was too late, and the other group believe he wanted to use the bomb diplomatically before it was too late. Whatever Russell really meant, it soon became of only historical interest as the USSR successfully detonated its own atomic device a year later in 1949.


In the April 17 2006 issue of The New Yorker,[3] Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh reported on the Bush Administration's purported plans for an air strike within Iran. Of particular note in his article is that an American nuclear first strike (possibly using the B61-11 bunker-buster nuclear weapon) is under consideration to eliminate underground Iranian uranium enrichment facilities. In response, President Bush cited Hersh's reportage as "wild speculation"[4] but did not deny its veracity. In fact, Bush had commented earlier in 2006 that while the use of nuclear weapons should indeed be a last resort, it should still always be an option on the table. Seymour Hersh Seymour Myron (Sy) Hersh (born April 8, 1937) is an American investigative journalist and author based in New York City. ... The B61 nuclear bomb is the the primary thermonuclear weapon in the U.S. Enduring Stockpile following the end of the Cold War. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 kilometers (11 mi) above the hypocenter. ... Enriched uranium is uranium whose uranium-235 content has been increased through the process of isotope separation. ...

Movies about first strike

The movie Miracle Mile depicts the USA dealing a first strike on the Soviet Union. Miracle Mile is a 1988 thriller film directed by Steve de Jarnatt and starring Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham. ...

See also

In the theory of nuclear warfare, a decapitation strike is an attack that aims to remove the command and control mechanisms of the opponent, in the hope that it will severely degrade or destroy its capacity for nuclear retaliation. ... In nuclear strategy, second strike capability is a countrys assured ability to respond to a nuclear attack with powerful nuclear retalliation against the attacker. ...


  1. ^ http://www.cs.umb.edu/jfklibrary/cmc_castro_khrushchev.html
  2. ^ http://www.economist.com/books/PrinterFriendly.cfm?Story_ID=699582
  3. ^ http://www.newyorker.com/printables/fact/060417fa_fact
  4. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/10/world/10cnd-prexy.html

External links

  Results from FactBites:
First-Strike (page 1) (1082 words)
By launching the first strike suddenly and unexpectedly, you use the element of surprise to demolish the attacker's defenses, gain superiority, and ultimately end the threat.
First strike does not mean one strike, which is the principle of delivering one quick and powerful strike in the hope that it will end the confrontation.
First strike does not mean you may attack with impunity.
Lawsuits target 'first strike' coins - Boston.com (749 words)
About 150,000 coins labeled "first strike" by PCGS or NGC have been sold since Jan. 1, 2005, to collectors and investors in all 50 states, according to the lawsuits.
Lipcon, however, said PCGS previously used a definition indicating that a "first strike" was one of the first coins produced by a certain die.
NGC says it will designate a coin "first strike" if it arrives with the proper documentation at the company within the first month of release or is submitted in sealed U.S. Mint packaging at a later date.
  More results at FactBites »



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