4 May 2017

The political and military vulnerability of America’s land-based nuclear missiles

Jon B. Wolfsthal

A member of the Bulletin's Science and Security Board, Jon Wolfsthal is the former Special Assistant to the President of...


The current plan for US nuclear modernization would replace the nation’s aging Minuteman III missiles with next-generation missiles known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, at a cost of $100 billion or more. As part of the agreement that resulted in the Senate’s approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty nuclear agreement with the Russian Federation, the Obama administration agreed to a nuclear modernization plan that includes retaining and upgrading the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). But from a military standpoint, these missiles are the most vulnerable and least essential components of the US nuclear arsenal. As part of its comprehensive nuclear posture review, the Trump administration should take the time to determine whether ICBMs fit into America’s nuclear deterrent strategy, and to consider options such as reducing or even eliminating them – which could be done with little risk to the overall security of the United States or its allies. Read this free-access article in the May/June digital journal.

Countries: United States
Region: Americas