No Desire to Convert Silos or Tubes

The provision in the New START Treaty that would prohibit both the US and Russia from housing ballistic missile defense interceptors in converted ICBM silos or strategic nuclear submarine launch tubes does not impede US missile defense plans, senior Defense Department officials told lawmakers Wednesday. For one, such conversions would be “operationally impractical and very expensive,” James Miller, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Further, Gen. Kevin Chilton, head of US Strategic Command, noted that “the value of the nuclear deterrent, per missile, far outweighs the value of the single missile defense interceptor.” Thus, he wouldn’t advise substituting a nuclear missile in a silo or launch tube for a BMD interceptor. Better to have separate, dedicated silos for BMD interceptors, these officials said. The White House submitted New START to the Senate in May for its advice and consent. (For more coverage, see Ballistic, Yes, Non-Ballistic, No.) (Chilton prepared statement) (Miller prepared statement)