This story is over 5 years old.

Good News: The US Will Soon Have Fewer Ways to Launch Nukes

There will still be 700 ways to deliver a nuclear payload, but hey, it's a start.
April 8, 2014, 10:45pm
Image: Greg Goebel/Flickr

The military is cutting back on the number of ways it can cause complete and utter destruction, announcing Tuesday that it will reduce the number of systems capable of launching a nuclear missile from 886 to 700, as required by the terms of the New START treaty with Russia.

The Department of Defense will disable a total of 56 missile launch tubes on 14 nuclear submarines, convert 30 B-52 nuclear bombers into conventional bombers, and take the bombs out of 50 other missile silos. The cuts are the first under the treaty, which was agreed to in 2010 and signed in 2011. According to the Air Force Times, the Department of Defense will make cuts to its intercontinental ballistic missile program at bases in Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana.

If you’re keeping score at home, there are still a large number of ways that America can launch a nuclear missile, from the land, the sea, and the air. The military will still have 400 deployed nuclear warheads at ICBM bases, 240 warheads on Trident II submarines, and 60 warheads ready to be dropped from B-2A or B-52H bombers.

At the time the treaty was signed, the United States had 300 more deployed nuclear warheads than Russia did, and these are the first cuts under the program. According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Russia has 536 ways of launching a nuclear missile.

A quick reminder: It takes far fewer than 700 (and far fewer than 536, for that matter) nuclear warheads to cause catastrophic damage. The United States and Russia also remain on frosty terms over Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, which makes new disarmament efforts, which have been a priority for President Obama, unlikely in the near future. But not to worry: Obama has also said that Russia isn't the nuclear concern; a nuclear device going off in NYC is.