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America’s ground-based nuclear missile silos – expensive and unnecessary

New report questions the necessity of ICBM silos in Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota   https://dailymontanan.com/2021/07/28/new-report-questions-the-necessity-of-icbm-silos-in-montana-wyoming-and-north-dakota/

Researchers question whether America can afford to spend money on new system

BY: DARRELL EHRLICK – JULY 28, 2021   A massive recent report by the Federation of American Scientists calls into question whether ground-based nuclear missiles, like the ones siloed in Montana, are still necessary to the country’s safety.

The question of nuclear missiles is not new, but lead author Matt Korda, a research associate at the Nuclear Information Project of the federation, said the issue needs revisiting since the war system that was created at the beginning of the Cold War has outlived the Soviet Union, and the world’s political system has rapidly changed.

Korda explained that new security threats have presented themselves, which means that America’s defenses must adapt. For example, terrorism from small groups instead of threats from countries are a reality that was unlikely during the height of the Soviet-America conflict. Also, economic inequality and social unrest within the country have also changed the conversation. Furthermore, global warming and the effects of climate change and the new threat of pandemics mean that America must re-think its priorities.

A massive recent report by the Federation of American Scientists calls into question whether ground-based nuclear missiles, like the ones siloed in Montana, are still necessary to the country’s safety.

The question of nuclear missiles is not new, but lead author Matt Korda, a research associate at the Nuclear Information Project of the federation, said the issue needs revisiting since the war system that was created at the beginning of the Cold War has outlived the Soviet Union, and the world’s political system has rapidly changed.

Korda explained that new security threats have presented themselves, which means that America’s defenses must adapt. For example, terrorism from small groups instead of threats from countries are a reality that was unlikely during the height of the Soviet-America conflict. Also, economic inequality and social unrest within the country have also changed the conversation. Furthermore, global warming and the effects of climate change and the new threat of pandemics mean that America must re-think its priorities.

Korda’s research questions whether the assumptions – like trying to make a snap-judgment decision – isn’t more of a liability than a strength.

“There’s a bias in this system toward launching them really quickly,” Korda said.

Moreover, because anyone looking to launch an attack on America wouldn’t necessarily know the location of bombers or submarines, it would make the stationary missiles in places like Montana a target.

“It would invite a devastating attack,” Korda said.

In other words, in the event of a nuclear attack, Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota may be the first places to be wiped off the map.

He said part of the report’s purpose was to dive into the theories that have become a sort of gospel in the defense world – that America’s enemies would be forced to attack the ground-based silos first before targeting larger population centers like Washington, D.C., Los Angeles or New York City.

He said with countries like China and North Korea developing nuclear missiles with quick flight times, the idea that they would target a place like Montana or Wyoming before more populated West Coast targets isn’t logical.

“We have always assumed that ground-based missiles would deter an attack, but there’s no evidence that would happen,” Korda said.

Instead, Korda argues in the report, the entire system and the next generation of missiles, estimated at a lifetime cost of more than $260 billion, is based on the idea that an enemy would have to target the ground-based system first.

Moreover, because of the quick launch decisions, the ability to recall the nuclear missiles would be nearly impossible, raising the chances that a false alarm could trigger an accidental nuclear war.

Korda’s study also calls into question whether as many nuclear warheads are necessary. For example, China currently has around 300, with plans not to exceed 600. Its current stockpile of nukes is less than 10 percent of the United States’ inventory. Korda said that if a threat like China only needs 600, then that would seem to indicate America may not need as many to be safe.

“The U.S. nuclear posture and policy kind of presumes that escalation (of a nuclear attack) can be controlled after they go off, but I don’t think that’s the case,” Korda said.

He pointed out that even the conservative-leaning RAND Corporation has stated that America’s nuclear arsenal is two to three times as much as the country likely needs.

The new study doesn’t just call into question the military strategy and history of the ground-based nuclear missiles, it also links it to an economic question: Whether America can afford to update and continue the program with emerging threats.

“Is the money better spent in missiles or would it be better to put it toward action on  climate change or even disinformation?” said research assistant Tricia White.

August 16, 2021 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

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