With less than a month to go until Donald Trump decides whether the US will withdraw from the INF treaty, evidence is mounting that scrapping the treaty will escalate nuclear tensions.
Speaking in an interview, Viktor Yesin, the former Russian Strategic Rocket Forces Commander, claimed that the Russian Cold War era nuclear weapons system Perimeter – aka ‘Dead Hand’ – is still functioning and has been improved since its inception.
Why this is so alarming is that Perimeter is an automatic nuclear weapons launcher, used as a second-strike system which would fire nuclear weapons without requiring human input.
Referred to as a ‘doomsday device’, Perimeter was envisaged as a means to ensure that Russia can enact a retaliatory nuclear attack, regardless of the damage inflicted by a US first strike. If triggered, Dead Hand will launch all of Russia’s remaining missiles, creating a nuclear catastrophe on an apocalyptic level.
CND has previously warned against the dangers of developing such ‘Doomsday’ technologies. In our Future Wars conference last year, we heard from experts and academics on the ways innovations in artificial intelligence, drones and space technology have altered warfare to the detriment of human security. Yesin’s stated ‘improvement’ of a system already recognised as cataclysmic only reaffirms this expert opinion.
Apocalyptic systems such as Dead Hand could soon play a part in the major world powers’ defence systems. Since Donald Trump issued his 60 day ultimatum, we have seen the rise of escalatory rhetoric from both the US and Russia. This breakdown of bilateral disarmament coupled with access to these new technologies marks a very dangerous moment for the world.
A movement must rise to confront these moves towards nuclear war as our movement did in the 1980s. Those efforts helped secure the INF treaty and now we must act to save it.
For more information on the role of technology in nuclear warfare, see our Future Wars conference page which includes videos from our conference speakers.