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ICBM Trajectories: Some Issues for the Superpowers' Neighbors

Alejandro Nadal Egea
Journal of Peace Research
Vol. 27, No. 4 (Nov., 1990), pp. 373-384
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/424262
Page Count: 12
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
ICBM Trajectories: Some Issues for the Superpowers' Neighbors
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Abstract

This essay examines the possible factors that may cause nuclear warheads to deviate from their preassigned targets and inadvertently to have direct impacts on non-belligerent countries during a nuclear exchange. Although nuclear warheads might not detonate if ICBMs were to deviate from their trajectories, plutonium contamination could cover considerable areas. The first section focuses on the technical aspects of ICBM technology that may act as target miss factors. The conclusions are that ICBM accuracy may have been overestimated and that target miss factors have not received adequate attention. The second section examines some of the implications for the neighbors of the two superpowers in the event of a nuclear exchange. The cases of countries in different geographical positions but lying within the corridors embracing ICBM trajectories are considered. The third section centers on probable trends in mobile ICBM basing schemes as well as in multiple maneuverable re-entry technology. The concluding remarks highlight some of the legal and political angles behind the question of inadvertent direct impacts of nuclear warheads.

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