AHC: Have the US keep the nuclear edge over the USSR

As we all know, the US was the country which created the first nuclear weapons and the only country to use them in war, bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear weapons to finally end the Pacific War. After that, the US kept the largest nuclear arsenal as many more countries developed nuclear weapons, chief among them the USSR. But the USSR struggled to reach nuclear parity with the US for decades and the strong American nuclear advantage played a big role in Khrushchev pulling back during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But then, in 1977, the USSR surpassed the US in total nuclear weapons stockpile and kept the nuclear edge basically until the present day(with a gap in the early 2000s). So my question is, how do you have the US keep the nuclear edge? And I mean by thousands of warheads difference, not tens or hundreds. And also, what would be the effects on the world? Maybe Gorbachev directly succeeds Brezhnev or Andropov and starts early de-escalation negotiations? Maybe the USSR collapses during thefirst half of the '80s?
 
Klaus Fuchs is caught and turned, so he gives the Soviets deliberately wrong technical advice crafted at Los Alamos. Use thermal diffusion. Build a gun-type plutonium weapon. Make sure the graphite moderator has plenty of boron. Oh and you need red mercury.

Hopefully he can get them to waste enough resources that Beria is executed before Stalin gets a working device.
 
As we all know, the US was the country which created the first nuclear weapons and the only country to use them in war, bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear weapons to finally end the Pacific War. After that, the US kept the largest nuclear arsenal as many more countries developed nuclear weapons, chief among them the USSR. But the USSR struggled to reach nuclear parity with the US for decades and the strong American nuclear advantage played a big role in Khrushchev pulling back during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But then, in 1977, the USSR surpassed the US in total nuclear weapons stockpile and kept the nuclear edge basically until the present day(with a gap in the early 2000s). So my question is, how do you have the US keep the nuclear edge? And I mean by thousands of warheads difference, not tens or hundreds. And also, what would be the effects on the world? Maybe Gorbachev directly succeeds Brezhnev or Andropov and starts early de-escalation negotiations? Maybe the USSR collapses during thefirst half of the '80s?
Have Nixon win 1960 over Kennedy and decide to continue with the New Look / Massive Retaliation strategy of Eisenhower's as although ironically JFK hounded Nixon about a missile gap that turned out never existed, Kennedy decided to embrace flexible response when he won.

And also have Nixon promise to build more missiles in order to 'surpass the deficiency' on the campaign trail, thereby pulling a Tricky Dick to counter Kennedy's accusations while at it.

That's probably the most simplistic Point of Divergence I could think of.
 

Riain

Banned
I'd have the US not fart around so much with the MX missile basing, just fill the ~200-300 silos near the ABM site with Peacekeepers in the 70s. Bingo, 3000 extra massive, highly accurate MIRVs.
 
How are we defining nuclear edge here, just the total amount of MT in the arsenals? Because I don't think that's the only relevent measure to determine edge, so I'm not sure I agree with the basic premise.

However another way to go than just more MT, have some kid of ballistic missile counter system that works thus reducing the Soviet nuclear arsenal in terms of threat if not size.

Now these programs had long history of theory work so I'm not sure which is the most likely to POD into an actaully feasible system. Big and constant issues being practical implementation, political destabilization and kick-starting a new arms race. (although this last one might beggar the USSR faster and have positives for space exploration, but these are silver linings on a cloud)
 
Since the OP seems to be talking about total number of nuclear weapons rather than anything specific the solution would be for the US to keep a greater emphasis on tactical nuclear weapons

So replace the Genies with nuke carrying AIM-54 or AIM-7, develop a Davy Crockett successor, develop a nuclear 227mm rocket than ATACMS variant, actually develop that nuclear 5" shell for the navy, keep a larger stockpile of gravity bombs etc.
 
Since the OP seems to be talking about total number of nuclear weapons rather than anything specific the solution would be for the US to keep a greater emphasis on tactical nuclear weapons

So replace the Genies with nuke carrying AIM-54 or AIM-7, develop a Davy Crockett successor, develop a nuclear 227mm rocket than ATACMS variant, actually develop that nuclear 5" shell for the navy, keep a larger stockpile of gravity bombs etc.
I did something like that for Earth Six; after the Fall of Britain there were relatively few big strategic warheads but everyone deployed tactical weapons by the truckload.
 
Replace all the USN's SSBN's with the 'Ohio' class?

240 Trident Mirv's compared to 48 Polaris A3's per boat.
 
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A Soviet nuclear program that gets off to a late start? Not a bad chance that if M-26-7 is successful in Cuba, US troops invade the island. Possibly a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the USSR. Both were things seriously considered and if Soviet nuclear capabilities were anything less threatening and conditions were favorable, It’s very possible.
 

marathag

Banned
Have Not-Brezhnev decide that existing 1972 arsenals allowing MAD is enough, and sticks with 20,000 warheads, and puts more effort into making existing platforms more survivable and more accurate, while doing more with Carter for Arms control on strategic weapons.
Soviet economy has slightly more resources for Butter than just Guns
 

Garrison

Donor
Honestly does having an 'edge' even matter? I mean in a major exchange would it matter if one side has 20% more warheads? Or shoots down 50% of the other sides missiles? It strikes me as being a meaningless 'mine is bigger than yours' contest that might lead to less stability not more.
 

Riain

Banned
Honestly does having an 'edge' even matter? I mean in a major exchange would it matter if one side has 20% more warheads? Or shoots down 50% of the other sides missiles? It strikes me as being a meaningless 'mine is bigger than yours' contest that might lead to less stability not more.

I think it does, the combined cold war nukes of Britain, France and China wouldn't have the detterent effect on the Soviets that even a sub standard US arsenal would have. Maybe a 15% disparity is OK but 30% isn't, there would likely be a sweet spot.

That said when it comes to strategic nuclear warfighting the issues are extremely complex. For example accuracy is a substitute for shortfalls in yeild and reliability is a substitute for raw numbers. So to say the Soviets had X more warheads of Y greater yield and were superior is likely not accurate, as the more accurate and reliable US delivery systems and warheads might mean more icbm silos cracked, more pen-aids might mean more ABMs avoided etc.
 
Have Nixon win 1960 over Kennedy and decide to continue with the New Look / Massive Retaliation strategy of Eisenhower's as although ironically JFK hounded Nixon about a missile gap that turned out never existed, Kennedy decided to embrace flexible response when he won.

And also have Nixon promise to build more missiles in order to 'surpass the deficiency' on the campaign trail, thereby pulling a Tricky Dick to counter Kennedy's accusations while at it.

That's probably the most simplistic Point of Divergence I could think of.

I'll point out that both Eisenhower and Nixon were already leery of "New Look/Massive Retaliation" (which Ike had gone with in an effort to cut military spending) because it lacked options in most situations. (It also didn't save as much money as had been hoped and actually crippled the US ability to respond to events short of nuking everyone for any problem :) )

BUT... as an aside Nixon is going to be a LOT less intimidated by being shown the "Orion Deep Space Deterrent Force" concept than Kennedy was so we'd probably see that entire project move forward.... Considering you needed about 1000 "bombs" to get one to LEO I think that would most assuredly fit the OP's intent :)
("Bonus" is not Cuban Missile Crisis because Nixon planned on invading Cuba anyway:)

I'd have the US not fart around so much with the MX missile basing, just fill the ~200-300 silos near the ABM site with Peacekeepers in the 70s. Bingo, 3000 extra massive, highly accurate MIRVs.

The problem here is that refitting MMIII silos for MX use was both extremely expensive and extremely tough to do. That's going to cut into you budget to build MX's and MIRVs in a big way.

Randy
 

Riain

Banned
The problem here is that refitting MMIII silos for MX use was both extremely expensive and extremely tough to do. That's going to cut into you budget to build MX's and MIRVs in a big way.

As expensive as the dense pack and shell game basing concepts? They were always going to be expensive to emplace.

What about putting them into Titan silos?
 
As expensive as the dense pack and shell game basing concepts? They were always going to be expensive to emplace.

What about putting them into Titan silos?

Titan silos still had Titan's in them and they weren't really compatible with solid fuel missiles. :)

Likely about on part with the dense pack and shell game concepts because in the end you essentially had to totally rebuild the MMIII silo to not only fit the MX but to keep them 'survivable'. (Not an easy job at all with a bigger missile in the same size hole :) ) And building new silos wasn't an option, (which is why dense pack and shell game got nowhere) because that was found to be even more expensive than retrofitting MMIII silos. (Not by much but enough to count in Congress who was footing the bill)

Randy
 
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