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Conrad, Enzi Urge President to Maintain ICBM Force

Minuteman IIIs critical to nation’s defense, Senators say

May 15, 2009

Washington – As the Obama Administration looks to more effectively deploy our nation’s defenses, a bipartisan group of senators led by Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) today urged the White House to maintain the nation’s force of 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
 
“We agree that our nation should maintain the smallest possible nuclear force consistent with our security needs. But we feel very strongly that the ICBM force dramatically decreases the risk of nuclear war by providing a stabilizing constant in our nuclear posture,” the senators wrote. “We urge you maintain a strong land-based strategic nuclear deterrent force with 450 single-warhead ICBMs.”
 
The co-chairmen of the bipartisan ICBM coalition, Senators Conrad and Enzi wrote the letter as the US government begins negotiations with Russia to reduce the level of strategic offensive arsenals around the globe.
 
Air Force officials maintain that the nation’s ICBM force is the most stable and secure element of the nation’s nuclear arsenal. For that reason, the Air Force has indicated it intends to maintain the current level of 450 Minuteman III ICBMs for the foreseeable future. Legislation authored by Senator Conrad in 2006 set the goal of preserving the missiles until at least 2030.
 
In addition to Senators Conrad and Enzi, the letter was signed by: Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Max Baucus (D-MT), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Jon Tester (D-MT) and John Barrasso (R-WY).
 
The nation's ICBM force is made up of three missile wings deployed at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, and Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.