1500 deployed nukes (mostly on ICBMs and subs) is about the minimum number to provide a realistic deterrance against the Russian Strategic Rocket
Forces (SRF). If you go much lower then that the deterrence aspect starts to fail.
In nuclear war strategy (I know oxymoronic) there are two concepts that are pretty concrete, but that most in the general public have no concept of. I
am not talking of "strategic vs tactical" or
'limited vs full scale nuclear war" although those concepts relate. I am talking about:
Counter Force are nuclear weapons that a country has aimed at another countries nuclear weapons. They exist to counter the other countries force. The
vast majority of both US and Russia weapons are counter force, ie aimed at each others silos.
Counter Value is the threat against the enemies ciites (Iie civillian populous, industry)
A third concept is
2nd Strike is the concept that I have enough weapons left that after you fire your first strike (presumably counter force) I can still fire a counter
value strike, crippling your country. During the later parts of the cold war it was believed that both the US and USSR had most of their weapons aimed
at counterforce targets. In other words, we wanted to get each others weapons, if possible, but not necessarily the cities. However; both sides kept
enough weapons that a counter force strike was unlikely to succeed 100% and the initiator of the war would suffer a counter value strike. IE the
essence of Mutually Assured Destruction, which was indeed MAD, but one could also argue worked. The problem is, that under certain strategic scenarios
and situations, both sides (especially the Russians) beleive that a disarming single counterforce first strike is possible. If so, and your country
has it's weapons removed, it cannot respond, while the initiating country still has weapons to fire a counter value strike and can force you into
Right now, experts state we need around 1500 weapons to keep the policy sound, especially since Russia still places huge emphasis on the SRF. Seeing
that there are officials in both countries (although more so in the old USSR) that beleive nuclear war to be "winable" with the disarming first
strike, there will be little desire to go below are current force levels without the Russians replying in kind.
We will not likely cut much below this, unless the Russians do.
edit on 17-2-2012 by SrWingCommander because: spelling and content.