I played today in glasses. The DICKER NOTARUS! wedding was my last day wearing contacts, today is my last day wearing glasses. I'll be sleeping most of tomorrow.
If you didn't think they still built nuclear missiles, you're wrong. They have to replace missiles used in routine launch tests, and they're still upgrading the submarine fleet from the Trident I C4 to the Trident II D5. What I did find surprising is that the MX missile (AKA "Peacemaker") is still operational, with most of the force of 50 still sitting in the ground in Wyoming, on active strategic alert, with ten RVs on the rails. The START II treaty was supposed to eliminate the MX, and cut all the Minuteman IIIs down from three warheads to one each. It seems the Russians never ratified the treaty, and the Republican-run Congress in 1998 wrote a provision into the defense spending bill preventing funds from being used to decommission them, to keep President Clinton from doing it anyways. The treaty signed last year in Moscow does allow that to finally happen, and the work started back in October. But rather than take all fifty silos off alert, they stay on until their missiles are individually disarmed and removed.
They're not destroying the MXes, either. The warheads and missile bodies will all go into (separate) storage, and the silos will be maintained instead of destroyed. The warheads are reserve stockpile, though they will probably be installed in new Trident D5 missiles. The bodies will be available for tests and for space launch use. The end result is that if the unlikely need were to arise, in a few months, whatever's still in storage could be stuck back in the ground and put back online.
The MX is supposedly a tremendously accurate weapon, the Air Force claims it can land within feet of its target. (The technical term for this is "has an extremely small Circular Error Probability.) This is a Good Thing if your target is some kind of hardened or underground facility that you won't kill if you just strike near it. The Navy claims the D5 is just as accurate, so the upgraded subs can fill the void left by the deactivated MXes.
Yeah, I admit I sleep a little easier knowing that if everything ever went that far to shit, we are the baddest motherfuckers around and can bring God's own fury to your living room if the situation requires it. And for as much as I don't care for the current administration, I still have faith in them to fulfill their responsibility about using that force.
That Atomic Scientists' bulletin is really interesting... they say the Navy is just now deploying new targeting systems to the Ohio boats to allow fast onboard retargeting of the missiles. I had assumed that capability had been added ages ago. And it seems that NATO allied air forces have planned strike responsibilities using US nuclear weapons (B61 gravity bombs.) I never imagined it would be "okay" within security regulations to hand "our" nukes to a foreign citizen for delivery. And I thought NATO having MiG fighters in its arsenal (courtesy of German reunification) was wacky enough!