The reference provides warning and other appropriate measures to guard against the outbreak of nuclear war, either as a result of planned intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launches, or unauthorized or unexplained accidents or incidents involving a US space launch or event or implying a possible threat of a nuclear attack. Because the highest national importance is attached to agreements with the Russian Federation, the United States intends to prevent any event that would violate the agreements and implement actions minimizing the effect of any incident that might occur.
Many countries view ballistic and cruise missile systems as cost-effective weapons and symbols of national power. In addition, they present an asymmetric threat to US airpower. Many ballistic and cruise missiles are armed with weapons of mass destruction. Ballistic and cruise missiles present a significant threat to US and Allied forces overseas, and to the United States and its territories. Missiles are attractive to many nations because they can be used effectively against an adversary with a formidable air defense system, where an attack with manned aircraft would be impractical or too costly. In addition, missiles can be used as a deterrent or an instrument of coercion. Missiles also have the advantage of fewer maintenance, training, and logistic requirements than manned aircraft. Even limited use of these weapons could have devastating consequences because missiles can be armed with chemical, biological, or nuclear warheads.
Three main reason used for retaining U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe:
* Russia could turn bad and still has a lot of nonstrategic nuclear weapons
* Symbol of continued U.S. commitment to NATO: provides trans-Atlantic glue
* Other countries on NATO’s southern periphery are developing weapons of mass destruction
During the Cold War, the U.S. nuclear arsenal contained many types of delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. The longer range systems, which included long-range missiles based on U.S. territory, long-range missiles based on submarines, and heavy bombers that could threaten Soviet targets from their bases in the United States, are known as strategic nuclear delivery vehicles.
Successive U.S. governments have urged the creation of an anti-missile system to protect against long-range ballistic missile threats from adversary states. The Bush Administration believed that North Korea and Iran represented strategic threats, and questioned whether they could be deterred by conventional means.