Modern surveillance and reconnaissance systems of the United States, Russia and China are used not only to track nuclear missile launches, but to monitor missile launches with non-nuclear warheads.
This could lead to the accidental start of a military conflict between nuclear powers, writes The National Interest magazine. The attack by one of the parties on non-nuclear assets, such as satellites or radars, can be perceived as an attempt to damage the nuclear deterrence of the enemy.
The NI points out that the findings of the possibility of an accidental nuclear conflict were made by specialists of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace. Experts note that all three countries deliberately place nuclear and non-nuclear weapons in the same places to confuse their opponents.
Thus, Russia deploys carrier ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads and submarines in the same place as submarines with conventional weapons.
The US also abandoned the ground-based systems for tracking the nuclear forces of other countries since the Cold War – the satellites that Washington has launched since the mid-1980s carry equipment for both non-nuclear communications and nuclear launch control. I.e., if Russia decides to attack US satellites in order to prevent the use of non-nuclear missiles from the European missile system, this can be perceived as an attack on US nuclear forces.
In order to exclude such a threat, the nuclear-weapon states should divide nuclear and non-nuclear weapons and launch control devices. An accidental start of a nuclear war can also be prevented by creating satellites that will only track nuclear warheads, but will not react to the launch of conventional missiles, experts say.