Your Prompt Global Strike Primer
The New York Times has a good overview of an extremely powerful conventional weapons system that could be fired from a missile in the U.S. and reach anywhere on the planet in an hour. It’s called Prompt Global Strike. It’s an immature weapons system, barely in development, that looks for the moment like it was imagined by Wile E. Coyote. And the Nuclear Posture Review basically held it out as the conventional alternative to nuclear weapons.
Partly because elements of the technology behind Prompt Global Strike are “not yet even invented,” it’s hard to say what the system will ultimately cost or when it can be deployed. The New START accord with the Russians even had to limit its development because once launched from an intercontinental ballistic missile, it would be hard for Russia or any other power to determine with confidence that such a missile didn’t carry a nuclear payload.
Relatedly, here’s something that should warm Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) New START-opponent heart but surely won’t: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a NATO forum that the U.S. won’t withdraw its tactical nuclear weapons from Europe until there’s a follow-on treaty with Russia ensuring the Russians will do the same.
Update: Noah Shachtman hates Prompt Global Strike. “Relying on conventional ICBMs to do the job, and risking a nuclear showdown, is just plain crazy,” he writes.