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Senate coalition highlights value of America’s nuclear missiles

Senators call on Congress, next Administration to support ICBM modernization

December 14, 2016

The Senate Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Coalition released a white paper today calling on the next administration and Congress to support the modernization of the missiles that form the land-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad.

The bipartisan Coalition, which includes Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyo., along with senators from several states associated with the Air Force’s ICBM mission, recommended that the next Administration and Congress make nuclear deterrence the highest priority mission of the Department of Defense and support the modernization of the nuclear triad, including the replacement of the existing 1970s-era land-based ballistic missile fleet. The Coalition further recommended full funding for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrence (GBSD) program, which will produce a new ICBM before 2030. The full text of the white paper can be found here.

“It is clear that our ICBMs play a key role in the strategic defense of our country,” Enzi said. “And it is critical that our ICBMs are modernized in order to ensure we are prepared to defend against potential threats that we could face from around the world. I urge the new administration to support the bipartisan effort to update this crucial nuclear weapon system that is already close to 50 years old.”

“Our nation’s ICBM force plays a critical role in ensuring our country has an effective nuclear deterrent,” Barrasso said. “The new administration must be committed to strengthening and modernizing our nuclear arsenal. This will make sure Americans and our allies remain protected.”

In the white paper, ICBM Coalition members noted that the nation’s triad of nuclear bombers, submarine-based missiles and land-based missiles has been very successful in deterring threats to the United States and its allies.  They argue further that ICBMs remain critical to the success of the nuclear triad, given the rising threats from Russia, China, North Korea and elsewhere.

This is the second white paper produced by the Senate ICBM Coalition. The coalition previously authored a white paper in 2009 before Senate consideration of the New START agreement with Russia. 

Led by Senators John Hoeven, R-N.D., other senators signing the white paper include Jon Tester, D- Mont., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Mike Lee, R-Utah.