Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus are pointing to recent threats from North Korea as one more reason for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to maintain a strong nuclear weapons arsenal.
Tester and Baucus told Hagel that nuclear weapons provide a strong deterrent to North Korea and other hostile nations seeking or developing nuclear weapons programs. Malmstrom Air Force Base, in Great Falls, maintains and secures 150 inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) across north-central Montana.
"The U.S. faces an increasingly capable and bellicose nuclear North Korea," said Tester and Baucus, members of the Senate ICBM Coalition. "We understand difficult decisions will have to be made, but we would strongly object to any proposals that would reduce our nation's most cost-effective strategic assets."
Tester and Baucus urged Hagel to continue support for ongoing efforts to modernize the nation's ICBMs. They also told Hagel they were encouraged by his recent statements supporting land-based nuclear missiles.
The United States' nuclear weapons arsenal is divided into three elements: land-based missiles in silos and missiles aboard submarines and bombers. Inter-continental ballistic missiles are the most cost-effective leg of the triad because they cost less to maintain and the arsenal recently underwent a number of modernization efforts.
Tester and Baucus strongly support Malmstrom's ICBM mission, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the economy in north-central Montana and contributes to approximately 5,000 jobs.
The Senators, who have a long-record of support for Malmstrom's ICBM mission, recently called Malmstrom's missiles the "centerpiece of America's defense strategy."