News / USA

US Investigates Nuclear Missile Incident

An LGM-118A Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missile points skyward from its position in a silo
An LGM-118A Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missile points skyward from its position in a silo

Multimedia

Audio
Al Pessin

The U.S. military is looking into an incident on Saturday in which it lost communications with 50 long-range nuclear-armed missiles based in the northern United States.

The U.S. Air Force's new Global Strike Command lost communications with the missiles for about 45 minutes, and says it immediately dispatched troops to inspect the sites.  The check determined there was no damage and no evidence of sabotage.

A spokesman for the command says investigators believe a faulty circuit board at a control center was to blame.  The spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel John Thomas, says experts found that the same type of part failed at two other Air Force missile control centers in the late 1990s.

The military has launched two investigations into the incident, but a Pentagon spokesman, Colonel David Lapan, says the Air Force does not see the disruption as significant.

"They have emphasized that there was never a loss of command and control and there was no public safety danger in the incident," said Lapan.  "Right now their initial indications are that a computer component in one of the systems may have failed.  They are still looking into the exact cause and the circumstances."

Colonel Lapan says the airmen who control some 450 missiles spread across North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming maintained "the capability to carry out their mission" even during the outage.  The mission is to launch the missiles at overseas targets in response to a presidential order, which would normally only be done in retaliation for a nuclear attack on the United States.  

Under an agreement with Russia, both countries' nuclear-armed missiles are targeted at remote locations in the oceans to help avoid an accidental attack on populated areas.

Two years ago, Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired the top two Air Force officials, saying they had not taken two earlier nuclear control incidents seriously enough.  In the first incident, a B-52 bomber flew across the country armed with six nuclear weapons.  Not long after that, fuses for nuclear bombs were accidentally shipped to Taiwan instead of other supplies.  U.S. officials only found out about the mistake when officials in Taiwan informed them.

Global Strike Command was created, in part, in response to those incidents, as the Air Force's new leaders moved to tighten control on the large U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal.  Colonel Lapan says Secretary Gates is monitoring the investigations of the latest incident.

You May Like

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid