Chuck Hagel

Upgrading U.S. nuclear missiles, as Russia and China modernize, would cost $85 billion. Is it time to quit the ICBM race?

Upgrading U.S. nuclear missiles, as Russia and China modernize, would cost $85 billion. Is it time to quit the ICBM race?

The sky over the turbulent Pacific was pitch-black earlier this month when a Minuteman III missile blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a column of fire that illuminated the California coastline for miles.

The unarmed missile thundered past the outer reaches of the atmosphere, tracing a fiery arc around the globe before plunging into a lagoon at Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific, 4,200 miles away.

The Minuteman III tested May 3 near Lompoc is a critical element of U.S. defense strategy: a fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of obliterating any spot on Earth with a nuclear blast in 30 minutes or less.

Although the flight test proved...

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