(Great Falls Tribune) -- Russian inspectors visited Malmstrom Air Force Base earlier this month to verify that nuclear missile silos had been eliminated in accordance with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
The Russian inspectors verified April 9 that 18 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launch facilities had been eliminated.
Those launch facilities were part of the former 564th Missile Squadron, which was deactivated in 2008. All 50 of the squadron’s launch facilities will be demolished.
The initial phase of elimination began in January.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Air Force Civil Engineering Center selected Bryan Construction Inc. of Colorado Springs, Colo., as the demolition contractor. Current estimates call for eliminating the 50 launch facilities, located in Toole, Pondera, Teton and Chouteau counties, by early 2015.
The contractor will eliminate the launch facilities by filling them with earth and gravel. Gravel fill is a more effective and environmentally friendly method of elimination that’s also faster and more economical than those used in the past under the original START treaty. The work doesn’t pose any threat to public safety or the environment, according to Malmstrom officials.
The verification immediately reduces the number of ICBM launchers the U.S. is accountable for under New START requirements.
The New START treaty, ratified by the Senate in 2010, limits the United States and Russia to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads; 800 deployed and nondeployed ICBM launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and heavy bombers; and to have reduced their deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear weapons to no more than 700. The treaty deadline is February 2018.
The Type Two inspection gives Russian inspectors 12 hours to visit the eliminated sites and confirm that each launcher closure door has been removed and that the launcher tube is filled with earth and gravel.
Also reported by the Voice of Russia