High risk of miscalculation – Nuclear tensions override relations.
Mosher & Schwartz 03 (David E., RAND senior policy analyst with expertise in nuclear weapons policy, & Lowell, associate policy analyst, “Excessive Force: Why Russian and U.S. Nuclear Postures Perpetuate Cold War Risks” http://www.rand.org/publications/randreview/issues/fall2003/force.html) JM
Russian strategic nuclear forces remain the only current threat to the national existence of the United States. Although the risk of deliberate attack from Russia has sharply fallen since the end of the Cold War, the risk of an accidental or unauthorized use of Russian nuclear forces has arguably risen. For example, Russia’s early-warning system has severely deteriorated, as has the country’s ability to keep its mobile (and thus survivable) nuclear forces deployed. There are additional concerns about the state of Russia’s command-and-control system and the rise of separatist violence. None of the nuclear arms control treaties after the Cold War have dealt with the issue of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. Instead, these treaties have concentrated on reducing the total number of nuclear warheads each side wields. While these reductions are extremely important for improving the overall U.S.-Russian relationship, they do little to ease the risks of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear launch. This is because those risks stem from the nuclear postures and underlying nuclear doctrines of each nation, which remain firmly rooted in the hostile relationship forged during the Cold War. Thus, even as U.S.-Russian relations have improved dramatically to the point where the two countries are no longer enemies, they continue to view each other in nuclear terms. This imbalance in the political and nuclear relations between the two countries not only perpetuates the risks of accidental or unauthorized nuclear use but also fundamentally impedes further improvements in relations.
The Russian warning system is aging and empirically fails horribly – they go into high alert at the most innocent detections.
Graham 05 (Thomas, Special Representative for the President for Arms Control, “Space Weapons and the Risk of Accidental Nuclear War” http://www.armscontrol.org/print/1953 December 2005) JM
The Russian early warning system is in serious disrepair. This system consists of older radar systems nearing the end of their operational life and just three functioning satellites, although the Russian military has plans to deploy more. The United States has 15 such satellites. Ten years ago, on January 25, 1995, this aging early warning network picked up a rocket launch from Norway. The Russian military could not determine the nature of the missile or its destination. Fearing that it might be a submarine-launched missile aimed at Moscow with the purpose of decapitating the Russian command and control structure, the Russian military alerted President Boris Yeltsin, his defense minister, and the chief of the general staff. They immediately opened an emergency teleconference to determine whether they needed to order Russia’s strategic forces to launch a counterattack. The rocket that had been launched was actually an atmospheric sounding rocket conducting scientific observations of the aurora borealis. Norway had notified Russia of this launch several weeks earlier, but the message had not reached the relevant sections of the military. In little more than two minutes before the deadline to order nuclear retaliation, the Russians realized their mistake and stood down their strategic forces. Thus, 10 years ago, when the declining Russian early warning system was stronger than today, it read this single small missile test launch as a U.S. nuclear missile attack on Russia. The alarm went up the Russian chain of command all the way to the top. The briefcase containing the nuclear missile launch codes was brought to Yeltsin as he was told of the attack. Fortunately, Yeltsin and the Russian leadership made the correct decision that day and directed the Russian strategic nuclear forces to stand down.
Asteroid Impact – Nuclear War
Small asteroids can spark nuclear exchanges that kill millions if not correctly detected and identified.
Jaroff ’02 (Senior editor of Time Magazine, award winning science writer, founding managing editor of Discover magazine degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics from the University of Michigan, “It’s the little Asteroids that Get You”, Time, 9/17/02, http://www.time.com/time/columnist/jaroff/article/0,9565,351731,00.html?, AG)
Anyhow, after all that, I had good reason to think that I knew practically everything there was to know about asteroids and their threat to Earth — until this summer, when Brig. Gen Pete Worden, deputy director of the U.S. Space Command, disabused me of that notion. Though the asteroid detection program has so far concentrated on finding the big guys, civilization-ending monsters about six-tenths of a mile across or larger, Worden thinks that the more plentiful, and harder-to-detect smaller ones present a more imminent threat. Many of these asteroids are not massive enough to penetrate the atmosphere and strike Earth. But, as they hurtle into the atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour, friction heats them so rapidly that they explode before reaching the ground. By now, we've all heard of the asteroid, about 300 ft. in diameter, that in 1908 exploded about five miles above the uninhabited Tunguska region of Siberia. The blast, estimated today at 10 megatons, burned and felled trees and killed wildlife over an area of several hundred square miles. And as recently as 1996, an asteroid exploded over Greenland with the equivalent of a 100 kiloton blast. Had either of these intruders from space met their demise over, say, London or New York, hundreds of thousands might have perished. That's bad enough, and we'd certainly better start looking harder for the smaller guys. But, as Worden warns, these diminutive asteroids can trigger a danger even greater that their explosive potential. Last June for example, during the standoff between nuclear powers India and Pakistan, an asteroid no more than 30 feet across exploded over the Mediterranean sea with the force of a one kiloton bomb. Had that blast occurred anywhere over the subcontinent, Worden fears, neither side could have distinguished between a nuclear blast and an exploding asteroid. Mistaking the event as a first strike, they might have launched a nuclear exchange and killed millions. Worden wants the U.S., which has the technology to identify the nature of these air blasts, to set up a warning center that could reassure rival nuclear-armed nations on the subcontinent, as well as in Asia and the Middle East, that they are under asteroid, not nuclear, attack. Until that kind of center is up and functioning, my new asteroid dreams will not have happy endings.