The Obama Administration has announced its plans to place 50 of our nuclear weapons into storage in accordance with a controversial treaty with Russia.
The Pentagon said that the 450 land-based missiles will be kept, but that 50 of them will be placed into storage to comply with the START treaty. However they did say that the silos that contained the missiles will be left operational so they could be returned to active use in the future.
Once the 50 missiles are placed into storage, the total number of launch-ready Minutemen III intercontinental ballistic missiles will be at 400, which is the lowest it’s been since 1962.
The New START treaty has been a point of contention within the U.S. between politicians and weapons experts. It was announced just before the 2010 mid-terms and signed in 2011 and aims to reduce the number of active nuclear weapons for both Russia and America down below 700 each.
According to the Pentagon, the cost to keep the 50 silos in “warm” status will be $19.3 million over the course of five years. The missiles will still be maintained and stored on base.
In order to keep the silos and not decommission them, the Pentagon was forced to make steeper cuts in the Navy’s sea-based nuclear force in order to be in compliance with the treaty by 2018, which is the deadline.
The number of submarine-launched missiles, for both deployed and non-deployed subs, will be reduced to 280 from 336.
Of the 14 Ohio-class submarines capable of carrying and launching nuclear missiles, only 12 will count as deployed under the treaty since two will be in for long-term service at any given time throughout the 10-year duration of the treaty.
In addition to the naval cuts, the U.S. Air Force will be making cuts to its bomber fleet as well. The number of strategic bombers will trimmed down from 93 to 60, with an additional six being classified as non-deployed.
There will be a total of 19 B-2 stealth bombers and 41 B-52H Stratofortress heavy bombers that remain deployed. The rest will be retrofitted to accept conventional weapons.
These reductions ensure that the U.S. has the maximum allowed number of 700 deployed strategic nuclear weapons, which are comprised of 400 ICBMs, 240 submarine-based missiles and 60 long-range bombers.
Currently, Russia is below the limit of 700 deployed weapons and has reported they only have 473 total as of last October.