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U.S. to Launch Nuclear Missile from Vandenberg AFB on Thursday

The launch, the second in a week, coincides with the anniversary of the biggest-ever U.S. nuclear test

The United States has selected this Thursday, March 1, the 58th anniversary of the Castle Bravo nuclear test, for its next launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

The launch will take place at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with a target in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Castle Bravo was the largest atmospheric nuclear test ever performed by the United States, with an explosive yield of 15 megatons — 1,000 times larger than the atomic bomb that devastated the city of Hiroshima. The Castle Bravo test is remembered for causing widespread contamination to many atolls in the Pacific, including Bikini, Rongelap and Rongerik, the effects of which continue today.

“To conduct this test of a delivery vehicle of a thermonuclear weapon on the anniversary of the most devastating U.S. thermonuclear weapon test is even more insulting to the people of the Marshall Islands than our other tests that target their lands,” said David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. “It is unconscionable that, six decades later, the U.S. continues to use the Marshall Islands as its nuclear weapon testing grounds.”

Thursday’s test of a Minuteman III will be the second test in less than a week; the Air Force also fired a Minuteman missile from Vandenberg on Saturday. The 2:46 a.m. launch was preceded by an act of civil resistance by 15 individuals, including Krieger, Daniel Ellsberg and Cindy Sheehan.

“Minuteman III missiles are first-strike nuclear weapons that are thoroughly obsolete 20 years after the end of the Cold War,” Krieger said. “Their continued testing and deployment put us at greater risk of nuclear war by accident or design. Rather than projecting the insane power of our nuclear forces by means of ballistic missile tests, the U.S. should be leading the way to a world without nuclear weapons. Nuclear-armed missiles are quite simply instruments of indiscriminate mass murder and should not be tolerated.”

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is encouraging its members and other concerned citizens to send a message to President Barack Obama to cancel this test of a U.S. first-strike missile.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation was founded in 1982. Its mission is to educate and advocate for peace and a world free of nuclear weapons and to empower peace leaders. The foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with consultative status to the United Nations and is comprised of individuals and groups worldwide who realize the imperative for peace in the Nuclear Age.

— Debra Roets is the director of development and communications for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.


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