The Air Force is at it again. Back in September 2011, thousands of you wrote to President Obama asking him to cancel the test launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile on the International Day of Peace. That test was canceled. Now, the Air Force has scheduled another Minuteman test for this Thursday, March 1, which is the 58th anniversary of the Castle Bravo nuclear test. The missile will target 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 Marshall Islands, the effects of which continue today. Fallout from this test also poisoned the Japanese fishing ship The Lucky Dragon, killing one crew member and sickening the others.
To conduct this test of a thermonuclear weapon delivery vehicle on the anniversary of the most devastating US thermonuclear weapon test is even more insulting to the people of the Marshall Islands than our other tests that target their lands. It is unconscionable that, six decades later, the US continues to use the Marshall Islands as its nuclear weapon testing grounds.
The United States keeps 450 Minuteman III missiles, which carry nuclear warheads, on high-alert status, ready to be fired within moments of an order. Since their development in the late 1960s, the US has test-fired this type of nuclear missile over 200 times.
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, February 25. Please take a moment to write to President Obama today and ask him to cancel Thursday’s test on the anniversary of Castle Bravo and to take nuclear weapons off high-alert status in order to lower the possibilities of accidental or unauthorized missile launches.