The Washington Post has an article called Lowering The Alert Levels In U.S. And Russia. The article is a synopsis of a study entitled Reframing Nuclear De-Alert, Decreasing the operational readiness of U.S. and Russian arsenals. The study was done by the EastWest Institute who partnered with government agencies of Switzerland and New Zealand to produce the project. Why the Swiss and New Zealanders? I guess they were the only ones willing to help foot the bill for the effort.
The study is presented in a sufficiently clinical and balanced manner, however one item in particular stands out, and that is the term “hair-trigger” or “hair-trigger alert.”
Both the WaPo article and the study analogize that due to a variety of safeguards, “hair-trigger nuclear systems” are really more like a gun in a holster with the safety on.
Regarding U.S. ICBMs, a much better analogy would be that of a gun in a safe, with ammunition in another safe. Oh, and the gun owner’s father alone has the combination to the first safe and only the gun owner’s mother has the combination to the second safe. In other words, it takes many parties to release a U.S. nuclear weapon.
ICBMs are capable of responding rapidly, but they are far from being on a “hair trigger” alert status.
The security benefits (except to the arms control industry) to the U.S. of reducing operational readiness are far from evident.