According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Russian land-based missiles could reach the U.S. in as little as 30 minutes, with submarine-based missiles striking 10 or 15 minutes after they are launched.
Both the U.S. and Russia have their missiles on hair-trigger alert, meaning they can be launched within minutes after a decision is made to do so.
Weapons were put on hair-trigger alert during the Cold War when Soviet and American military strategists feared first-strike attacks of up to thousands of missiles thatcould be used to destroy bombers and land-based missiles in enemy territory, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Today, there are agreements between the U.S. and Russia which help to enhance America’s’ protection from Russian nuclear weapons.
According to the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms treaty between the United States and Russia, also known as the New START Treaty, both countries have agreed to the following limits on their nuclear holdings.
The New START treaty also limits all Russian nuclear warheads “loaded onto an intercontinental-range ballistic missile that can reach the United States in approximately 30 minutes.” The New Start Treaty is in effect through Feb. 4, 2026.
Russia has also signed the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons treaty. The goal of this treaty is to “prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament,” according to the United Nations.