Key point: Moscow likes scary weapons, even though they might not be practically usable.
Russia has begun underwater tests of its Poseidon thermonuclear torpedo.
The Poseidon is an 80-foot-long nuclear-powered submersible robot that is essentially an underwater ICBM. It is designed to travel autonomously across thousands of miles, detonate outside an enemy coastal city, and destroy it by generating a tsunami.
“In the sea area protected from a potential enemy’s reconnaissance means, the underwater trials of the nuclear propulsion unit of the Poseidon drone are underway,” an unnamed Russian defense official told the TASS news agency.
The source also said the “the reactor is installed in the hull of the operating drone but the tests are being held as part of experimental design work rather than full-fledged sea trials at this stage.”
TASS also reports the Poseidon, — the name was chosen in a Web contest held by Russia’s Ministry of Defense – will be armed with a 2-megaton warhead. That’s more than enough to destroy a city. But that leaves the question of why Russia would choose to nuke an American city with an underwater drone – even one that allegedly travels 100 miles an hour – when an ICBM can do the job in 30 minutes.
Russia suggests the Poseidon is a retaliatory weapon that would revenge a U.S. first strike even if American missile defenses were capable of stopping hundreds of Russian ICBMs. But even in the unlikely event that the U.S. could intercept 500 or more Russian ballistic missiles, a delivery system that could take days or weeks to reach its target seems hardly an efficient deterrent.
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