US nuke officers left blast door open

An Air Force missile crew commander standing at the door of his launch capsule 100 feet under the ground in north-central Colorado

Air Force officers in charge of launching nuclear-tipped missiles have been punished twice this year for leaving open a blast door at their underground command posts compromising the US nuclear arsenal, officials said.

The two blunders occurred earlier this year at Minot Air Force Base in South Dakota and Malmstrom Air Force Base near Great Falls, Mont., the officials said.

The officers involved were not identified in the incidents, which were first reported Tuesday by The Associated Press.

“There were two cases in the last year where non-judicial punishment was given for a violation for leaving the blast doors open when they should have been shut,” said Lieutenant Colonel John Sheets, spokesman for the military’s Global Strike Command.

The heavy steel blast doors, intended to prevent intruders or terrorists from entering the posts, are never to be left open if one of the crew members inside is asleep, as an intruder can compromise the secret launch codes.

The incidents are merely the most recent in a series of security and safety breaches in the nuclear force of the United States.

In May, 17 missile launch control officers at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., had been taken off duty over what one officer called “rot” inside the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) force.

In August 2007, six cruise missiles loaded with W80-1 nuclear warheads were flown from Minot to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana without the warheads being removed for safety, as required.

Capping the problems, two senior officers in charge of US Strategic Command have been fired due to personal misbehavior this month.

Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was removed from command of the 20th Air Force, which is responsible for maintaining a total of 450 ICBMs at three bases across the US.

Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, deputy commander at US Strategic Command, which oversees all nuclear war-fighting forces, was also fired for illegal gambling activities.

HJ/HJ

Source: Press TV