Mar 28 2012
North Dakota Senators Stress Critical Importance of Nation's Nuclear Arsenal
Washington – Concerned over efforts to reduce America's nuclear capabilities, Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven today urged Congressional leaders to maintain a robust fleet of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).
"Around the world, America's adversaries are developing and refining nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. In order to have a truly effective deterrent, we must maintain sufficient strategic forces to guard against these threats simultaneously," the Senators said in a joint statement.
As the Senate Armed Services Committee holds hearings on the FY 2013 budget and the future of the strategic forces, Senators Conrad and Hoeven joined with six of their colleagues to send a letter to Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee.
The letter states that “the ICBM force dramatically decreases the risk of nuclear war by providing a stabilizing and visible constant in our nuclear posture.” It also notes that the force has been modernized through 2030 and is the least expensive leg of the triad.
The U.S. currently has 450 Minuteman III missiles with 150 missiles each at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota; Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana; and F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.
The bipartisan letter acknowledges the New START agreement’s range of missile levels and asks that any reductions be made equally among the three facilities. It also asks that reductions be done incrementally and that all 450 ICBM silos remain in "warm status." This will maintain global nuclear stability, avoid U.S. vulnerability and guarantee strength and preparedness in times of need.
In addition to Senators Conrad and Hoeven, the letter was signed by: Senators Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT), Max Baucus (D-MT), Jon Tester (D-MT), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Michael Lee (R-UT).
Senators Conrad and Enzi are the co-chairmen of the bipartisan Senate ICBM coalition.