Because they put a premium on striking first, MIRVs
were seen as inherently destabilising and were limited in the SALT II treaty, the second major strategic arms limitation treaty signed in 1979.
Both the DF-31 and DF-41 missiles are road-mobiles with enhanced accuracy and designed to release multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle, or MIRVs
Both countries are in the process of modernizing their forces, and, ominously, by 2020 many of the systems are expected to carry nuclear-tipped MIRVs
and sophisticated decoys.
Because of the larger amount of nuclear material consumed by MRVs and MIRVs
, single warhead missiles are more attractive for nations with less advanced technology.
A number of deployments in Phase 1 are currently in place to defend against first-generation Iranian missile launches (that is, those that are not augmented with extensive MIRVs
It further added that China is developing countermeasures to missile defense, such as multiple independent re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs
, which if deployed in an ICBM makes the missile much harder to intercept.
One method, as both Mansoor Ahmed (from the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at Quaid-e-Azam University) and Usman Shabbir (of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank) suggest, would be to employ submarine-launched, nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, along with land-based Shaheen II ballistic missiles equipped with MIRVs
(multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles).
Treaties were reached with limits on launchers and aircraft and limited deployments of antiballis-tic missiles, but there were still potentially destabilizing "improvements" such as "multiple independent reentry vehicles," called MIRVs
, that allowed one missile to carry many warheads.
So far, China has not deployed MIRVs
on its current nuclear arsenal but has shown the capability of adding up to three warheads on its new DF-31 truck mobile intercontinental ballistic missile.
It said future Chinese ICBMs will probably be equipped with MIRVs
, and the number of nuclear warheads capable of reaching the United States could expand to well over 100 in the next 15 years.
Although they may have failed to alter substantive history, nuclear weapons have inspired legions of strategists to spend whole careers agonizing over what one analyst has called "nuclear metaphysics," arguing, for example, over how many MIRVs
(multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles) could dance on the head of an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile).
Nikolai Novichkov, "Russia to Retain MIRVs
Beyond START II Deadline," Jane's Defence Weekly, 29 August 2002.