BEYOND THE AEGIS TEST
STRATEGIC STABILITY AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES
Rising to the challenges posed to strategic stability by emerging technologies and conventional weapons underlines SCRAP’s campaign. Following the U.S. Aegis system’s successful test, and the New START Treaty’s expiration on 5th February 2021, SCRAP is hosting a webinar which seeks to foster a discussion led by experts from the nuclear and disarmament international community about the significance of this milestone event.
In light of the successful AEGIS Ashore test which shot down an ICBM on November 16, 2020 – SCRAP Weapons will host a webinar about the implications of (successful) Ballistic Missile Defence for Strategic Stability (or balance of terror), at both the regional and global levels.
The discussion intends to place this milestone event within the broader context of the significance of emerging technologies for shaping global security and strategic stability.
The webinar also aims to discuss whether strategic stability should be maintained in light of the challenges posed by emerging technologies. As such, the webinar intends to contribute to the wider debate concerning strategic security and how it has already and will continue to be shaped because of the recent technological advancements.
The panel will consist of five experts from the international nuclear and disarmament community. It is intended that the experts will provide analysis and thought-provoking discussion on BMDs and emerging technologies, with special reference to the Aegis System. In short, what are their repercussions for strategic stability? The speakers should deliver a presentation lasting between 10-12 minutes, with a special focus on a particular region or country.
This webinar, which seeks to create an open dialogue with the nuclear community, will then ask the panellist prewritten questions sent by SCRAP members and followers – and will then, welcome the audience to participate in asking questions and sharing their opinions.
Nuclear experts and military strategists viewed the ABM treaty and MAD concept as critical factors in bringing strategic stability between two nuclear superpowers USA and the Soviet Union during the height of the cold war. True to the fact, the treaty was able to limit offence-defence arms race between these countries since its inception in 1972.
Since 2002 – and the US withdrawal of the ABM Treaty (to protect itself against “rogue nuclear actors” like the DPRK or Iran), the US, as well as the Russian Federation have been further developing their Ballistic Defence Missile (BDM) System – extending their system beyond the limits of the treaty.
The US’s Patriot, THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), Aegis and Russia’s S-300, S-400 Triumf and S-500 Prometheus (under R&D) are the most notable BMD systems. US BMDs (like their Russian counterpart) have not been proven to be highly successful against ICBMs, on top of being extremely costly.
In the Nuclear field, it is often feared that the enemy will perceive the development of BDM systems as offensive and possibly indicative of a preemptive strike, as they seek to remove one own’s vulnerability and thus endanger strategic stability – a concept particularly precious to Russia’s Nuclear Strategy since the 2000s. The US BDM System has increasingly been criticized by Moscow, as the United States has stepped up its BDM programs and has started deploying them close to European Russia and in South Korea. Moscow, as a countermeasure, has developed hypersonic missiles supposedly capable of bypassing the US Ballistic Missile Defense (or nuclear torpedo) – but remains extremely worried by the US BMD capability throughout the globe.
On November 16. 2020, the US successfully conducted a test against an ICBM on its descent – with its Block IIA Missile. This success is likely the first of many in intercepting ICBMs – and will have direct consequences for Russia’s security and thus, for strategic stability.
On February 5. 2021, New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) will expire – but the new Biden Administration and the Russian Federation are believed to be extending the treaty for a period from one to five years.
In the coming months and years after the extension, however, the two former superpowers will seek to renegotiate the Treaty: Washington seems keen on including China in the talks and reducing Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons – whilst Moscow hopes to prevent the United States from further developing its BDM system.