Republican Sees 50 Nukes Knocked Offline as a Chance to Recoup Lost Ground

No doubt you heard about the engineering failure at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming which knocked 50 nuclear ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) offline last Saturday. Then, on Thursday, Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic reported:

Senate Republicans plan to seize on the news [of said failure] to delay or even block ratification of the new strategic arms reduction treaty (START).

“The recent failure reinforces the need for the United States to maintain 450 ICBMs to ensure a strong nuclear defense,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). “If new START had been in place on Sunday, we would have immediately been below an acceptable level to deter threats from our enemies.” . . .

“We’re talking about one hour, and 50 missiles from one part of our triad . . .” a senior administration official said. . . . “And nothing in START prevents us from upgrading that part of the nuclear deterrent.”

Needless to say, we personally derive no consolation from the news that “nothing in START prevents us from upgrading that part of the nuclear deterrent.” At first we thought this was an attempt on the part of the Republicans to extort even more money from the Obama administration, already generous to a fault towards the nuclear-industrial complex. But, as you may have noticed above, Senator Barrasso is an “R-WY.” As Tom Z. Collina, writes in an Arms Control Association press release:

It should be noted that Sen. Barrasso’s state is host to Warren Air Force Base and its 150 ICBMs, and that New START could reduce that force.

The Obama administration has pledged a staggering amount of money — ballpark figure: $11 billion over the next decade — to the nuclear-weapons industry for “modernization,” in part to convince Republican senators to ratify START. But, in this instance, Sen. Barrasso is more concerned with a holding action in his own backyard.