Russia Checks U.S. Nuclear Missile Silos Amid Tensions

Global Security Newswire Staff
April 22, 2014, 9:02 a.m.

The stan­doff over Rus­sia’s in­cur­sion in Ukraine has not pre­ven­ted Mo­scow from veri­fy­ing the elim­in­a­tion of 18 U.S. mis­sile sites, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports.

Rus­si­an ex­perts vis­ited Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana on April 9 to en­sure that each in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­sile fir­ing site had been loaded with soil and crushed rock, and that their entry­ways could no longer seal shut. Their trip was one of eight an­nu­al checks Mo­scow can con­duct at U.S. in­stall­a­tions un­der the New START arms con­trol treaty.

“Over­all, we felt the pro­cess went smoothly,” said Col. Marne De­ranger, vice com­mand­er of Malmstrom’s 341st Mis­sile Wing.

The base learned of the planned vis­it one day be­fore Rus­si­an spe­cial­ists ar­rived in the com­pany of staffers from the Pentagon’s De­fense Threat Re­duc­tion Agency.

“From the time we star­ted [the in­spec­tion], we had to be com­pleted in 12 hours,” Richard Bi­al­czak, a treaty com­pli­ance spe­cial­ist for the mis­sile unit, said in re­leased com­ments. “We were able to get all 18.”

Bi­al­czak ad­ded that the trip was the first of its type at the base, which hosts one-third of the U.S. land-based stra­tegic mis­sile fleet. The oth­ers are loc­ated at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and F.E. War­ren Air Force Base in Wyom­ing.

Work­ers rendered 16 more fir­ing sites at the base in­op­er­able after the April 9 vis­it, and Rus­si­an in­spect­ors may check their elim­in­a­tion in a po­ten­tial re­turn vis­it, AP quoted Air Force per­son­nel as say­ing. The base is ex­pec­ted to elim­in­ate an ad­di­tion­al 16 launch plat­forms pre­vi­ously op­er­ated by the 564th Mis­sile Squad­ron, which dis­ban­ded in 2008.

As of 2018, New START will per­mit Rus­sia and the United States to each main­tain no more than a total of 800 de­ployed and nondeployed stra­tegic mis­sile launch­ers — on land or at sea — and nuc­le­ar-ready bomber air­craft.

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