Terrorist groups are more capable than ever. The unthinkable could already be unavoidable.
Since 9/11 the world has become used to periodic warnings about nuclear terrorism. We don’t like to think about it, and it has become easy to dismiss. People have been talking about this for years and it’s not happened, we reason.
After all, conducting a nuclear attack is hard. But the world is just waking up to the fact that it is faced with attack from terrorist groups of unprecedented strength.
The United States currently has 4,804 nuclear warheads, 450 of which are located on Air Force bases in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. These 450 Minuteman 3 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (icbms) are supposedly in constant battle-ready mode.Worryingly, the equipment used to secure these missiles was built in the 1960s. The bases are still using computers that require eight-inch floppy disks. As one missileer stated, she had not seen such “technology” until she started working in the command center. One would think the world’s superpower would use the latest state-of-the-art technology to safeguard its deadliest weapons.
However, it is not the shrinking army and its lack of up-to-date technology that should worry the American public the most, but the sketchy personnel in charge.
In 2013, the Air Force relieved the two-star general in command of the 450 icbms. The general was suspended for “exceeding the limits of accepted standards of good conduct and proper behavior” while on an official trip to Moscow. He reportedly drunk during the four-day trip. Earlier in the week, a vice admiral who oversaw the military’s nuclear forces, missile defense and cyber warfare operations was also relieved of his duties because of a probe into his possible use of counterfeit chips at an Iowa casino. Continue reading