From Russia with Another Nuclear Scare

The Western media outlets have been abuzz this weekend over a reported nuclear scare originating from, nowhere else but Russia, courtesy the U.S. State Department, citing top-secret intelligence, which flagged off a major risk to U.S. and Global Space Assets in the Low-Earth Orbit from a reported, latest Russian effort to deploy a nuclear armed satellite in the LEO. Putin's effort, geared towards weaponizing space, is going to be an outright violation of the Outer Space Treaty signed in 1967, however, Vova (Putin's Russian nickname), who, seems to be in a mood to exit every possible Cold-War era bilateral as well as multilateral treaty, seemingly, is not going to spare this one either. The move also is going to another addition to Russia's long tradition and history of global nuclear scaring which has so far included multiple precedents, including, the development of nuclear-powered missiles & aircraft, deployment of nuclear-tipped torpedoes during the Cold War and nuclear-powered torpedoes now with a virtually unlimited range. However, the epitome of these scaring tactics was the atmospheric detonation of world's largest thermonuclear explosion, the 58-megaton Tsar Bomba in October 1961, However, this time around, Russia is reportedly developing a space-based nuclear capability, in form, of a nuclear-armed satellite, which, when detonated could destroy the constellation of global satellites operating in the LEO and, thus, could wipe out global communication systems in a one full swoop with a direct, devastating impact on the global economy. The utilization of nuclear power for space applications is nothing new as the Soviet Union did launch and use a series of nuclear reactors-powered ocean surveillance satellites from 1970 till the late 1980s to monitor track U.S. Navy's fleet movements especially the multiple Carrier Strike Groups. The U.S. and the Soviet Union also had conducted space-based nuclear detonations in 1962 with lethal effects in the LEO as well as on Earth before the Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed and came into effect in 1963. The latest nuclear scare from Russia, however, is a clear violation of it and the Outer Space Treaty which prohibits deployment of nuclear weapons in space. The move, however, seemingly is being devised as Putin's latest bargaining chip against the West which could be used in case of a potential NATO military move or other existential threat to Russia. After issuing multiple threats of the potential use of a tactical nuclear weapon against Ukraine in October 2022, Putin now wants to create a direct and seemingly more effective threat to the global space-based infrastructure in the LEO. The U.S. State Department, however, has already initiated a diplomatic push, using China and India, to ratchet up pressure on Putin to desist from another nuclear misadventure intended at holding the international community as hostage to his nuclear blackmail. However, how successful will the U.S. efforts prove to be, amid the turning tide in the Ukraine war, only time will tell... P.S.: For a detailed, longitudinal account of the Soviet and Russian nuclear weapons program and delivery systems, since its inception, the following 3-part book series is highly recommended, "The Fire of the Gods: Oppenheimer's Legacy - The Evolutionary History of Nuclear Age - 1938 to 1991" available on Amazon at


2/18/20241 min read