Among the revelations from the CIA's newly declassified reports on Soviet nuclear forces:
- In 1963, the U.S. government was worried that the Soviets might develop an "orbital bombardment" system - one or more satellites with a nuclear bomb aboard. The fear was that they would "de-orbit" the nuclear warhead and detonate it about 150,000 feet above Earth - a burst that "would cause severe damage to cities" over a large part of the United States, "primarily by means of fire." The analysts doubted that the Soviets would actually try this, but they cautioned that Moscow was technically able to do it "at any time."This concern remained at least until the late 1960s, according to the reports.
- In 1979, the intelligence agencies predicted the Soviets would suffer 120 million casualties, including 85 million deaths, in a U.S. nuclear retaliatory strike, assuming minimal warning in Moscow. They foresaw 100 million casualties, including 60 million killed, if the Soviets had time to occupy urban bomb shelters. If all shelters were occupied and the Soviets had time to fully evacuate other areas, casualties would number 40 million, including 15 million deaths. The report contained no comparable estimates of U.S. casualties.
- Six months after President Ronald Reagan made his March 1983 "Star Wars" speech starting a crash research effort on a global shield against Soviet nuclear missiles, U.S. intelligence agencies foresaw a possibly disastrous Soviet response. If the United States actually developed such a missile shield and the Soviets had none, a Sept. 12, 1983, report said, the Soviets might attack it militarily.