The Final 20

The Defense Department is still hashing out where it intends to make the remaining cut of 20 strategic nuclear weapons launchers so that the United States complies with the New START agreement with Russia. “Whether that 20 is bombers or whether that 20 is missiles—to go from 420 [Minuteman III ICBMs] down to 400—is what we’re wrestling with right now,” Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, Air Force Global Strike Command boss, told a Senate oversight panel Wednesday. New START entered into force on Feb. 5. Among the treaty’s provisions, both the United States and Russia must have no more than 700 deployed launchers within the next seven years. Under the Obama Administration’s new nuclear force structure announced last May, the United States will maintain up to 60 deployable nuclear-capable bombers, up to 420 deployed Minuteman III ICBMs, and no more than 240 deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles. That’s a total of up to 720, meaning US officials must still shed 20 more, said Kowalski. (Kowalski prepared statement)