Nukewatch Quarterly Fall 2020
On September 2 for the second time in under a month, a Minuteman III missile with multiple mock nuclear warheads was test launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It was the third such intercontinental missile test in 2020.
On August 4, two days prior to the 75th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the Air Force launched a Minuteman III missile from Vandenberg, also loaded with multiple mock nuclear warheads. Since the 1996 START II Treaty restrictions were adopted, long-range USAF missiles have each been limited to a single warhead each.
The latest test missile’s mock warheads traveled about 4,200 miles to a target on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, the site of some 67 nuclear warhead test detonations during the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Rick Wayman, of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara, said, “We have decision makers who are willing and able to escalate nuclear threats even further by putting multiple warheads back on ICBMs—something that has not been done for decades.”
In a public statement, the Air Force said missile launch rehearsals show that its nuclear war plans are “safe, secure, reliable and effective.” Over the past 20 years, the Pentagon has rehearsed an average of three ICBM launches per year, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.