House Bill Mandate on Nuclear Missile Silos Draws Opposition

Global Security Newswire Staff
Global Security Newswire Staff
May 1, 2014, 10:18 a.m.

A House bill’s man­date that all nuc­le­ar mis­sile silos be kept op­er­a­tion­al in­def­in­itely has drawn op­pos­i­tion from some Demo­crats, Politico Pro re­ports.

The Re­pub­lic­an-led House Armed Ser­vices Sub­com­mit­tee on Stra­tegic Forces in its Wed­nes­day mark-up and ap­prov­al of an­nu­al de­fense policy le­gis­la­tion in­cluded a re­quire­ment that the De­fense De­part­ment main­tain each of the silos cur­rently hous­ing a Minute­man 3 mis­sile at least in “warm” status re­gard­less of wheth­er the weapon at a later date is re­moved from the un­der­ground launch cham­ber.

In ac­cord­ance with the im­ple­ment­a­tion of the New START pact with Rus­sia, the Pentagon last month an­nounced that between now and 2018 it would with­draw and place in re­serve 54 of the in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­siles but would keep their silos ready for po­ten­tial fu­ture us­age. The House bill pro­vi­sion ap­pears to go fur­ther than the Pentagon’s stated plan, though, by re­quir­ing that all of the ap­prox­im­ately 450 silos be kept op­er­a­tion­al in­def­in­itely.

“A con­gres­sion­al pro­vi­sion to in­def­in­itely pre­vent the re­duc­tion of mis­sile silos un­der­mines our mil­it­ary’s abil­ity to de­term­ine op­tim­al force struc­ture and ad­apt to our se­cur­ity needs,” U.S. Rep­res­ent­at­ive Lor­etta Sanc­hez (D-Cal­if.) was quoted by Politico Pro as say­ing. “It is only sens­ible that as we re­duce the num­ber of our nuc­le­ar weapons, we main­tain the abil­ity to ap­pro­pri­ately size our nuc­le­ar force struc­ture.”

Mi­chael Am­ato, a spokes­man for U.S. Rep­res­ent­at­ive Adam Smith (D-Wash.), said his boss thinks the mis­sile silo re­quire­ment would place “an un­ne­ces­sary and sig­ni­fic­ant fin­an­cial and stra­tegic bur­den” on the U.S. mil­it­ary.

Smith is the seni­or Demo­crat on the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, and Sanc­hez sits on the pan­el’s Stra­tegic Forces Sub­com­mit­tee

Law­makers from the three states that host the Minute­man 3 ar­sen­al — Montana, North Dakota and Wyom­ing — have moved re­peatedly to block any ef­fort to re­duce the Minute­man 3 ar­sen­al.

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