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Nukes Under that Smoke Ring


Your coverage of the Air Force’s March 23 launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, “Missile Blasts Off and Blows Smoke Ring,” made light of a very dark situation. The article failed to inform readers that the Minuteman III is the United States’ land-based missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead to most places on the planet within minutes. The U.S. keeps 450 of these missiles on hair-trigger alert in silos dotted across North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Despite decades-old legal obligations to end the nuclear arms race and negotiate nuclear disarmament, the U.S. continues not only to test fire its missiles but also plans to spend at least $1 trillion over the next 30 years to upgrade its nuclear weapons, production facilities, and delivery vehicles. The U.S. is joined in this continued nuclear arms race by all of the other eight countries that possess nuclear weapons, each of which is engaged in some level of nuclear “modernization” of its own.

The missile tested on Monday by the Air Force — with little or no public notice and under the cover of darkness — landed in the Marshall Islands. Last year, the Marshall Islands filed landmark lawsuits against the nine nuclear-armed nations in the International Court of Justice and U.S. Federal Court that seek the fulfillment of legal obligations to end the nuclear arms race and negotiate nuclear disarmament. This courageous stand by a small island nation is what should be celebrated, not a smoke ring party trick by a missile that is capable of killing hundreds of thousands of people in an instant.

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