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Center for Astrophysics Research and Technologies Seminar Series Information


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A Route to Armageddon:Technical Shortfalls in Russia's Nuclear Early Warning Systems

Friday October 21, 2022
3:30 pm

 Presenter:  Theodore A Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and International Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 Series:  Physics and Astronomy Colloquium
 Abstract:  This talk will describe the technical capabilities and limitations of the existing ground and space-based nuclear attack warning systems that could greatly complicate the ability of both Russian and US leaders to control the escalating use of nuclear weapons if nuclear weapons are used in the Russo-Ukrainian war.In particular, significant shortfalls in the capabilities Russian space-based sensors could cause Russian or US leaders in a crisis to inadvertently take actions that would then precipitate a rapid action and reaction cycle leading to catastrophic escalation of nuclear weapons use. An example of how such an inadvertent escalation could occur was a false alert of Russian nuclear forces in February 1995. At the time, US intelligence was completely unaware of the very serious shortfalls in Russia's space-based early warning systems. If the Russo Ukrainian war was in progress during this false alert, it could well have produced a rapid inadvertent escalation of the use of nuclear weapons by either or both side. Some of the numerous important limitations of these US and Russian early warning systems will be described in order to build a better understanding of their limitations during a real-world crisis.
 Web Site:    https:/ / youtu.be/ mU3HS85j0OQ
 Host:  Kevin Cahill
 Location:  PAIS-1100, PAIS

Disability Notice If you need an auxiliary aid or service to attend any Department of Physics and Astronomy event, please contact the department (phone: 505 277-2616; email: physics@unm.edu) as far in advance as possible to ensure you are accommodated.