WASHINGTON, D.C. – Residents of the nation’s capital, including D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser, are protesting a recent decision by congress to install several Minuteman III silos at the Tidal Basin in downtown Washington, D.C. “The District of Columbia has no need or want for a nuclear missile silo, let alone one right across from the National Mall,” argued Mayor Bowser.
However, congressional leaders disagree. “The Tidal Basin is an ideal location for an underground launch facility,” Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) told The Washington Post. “We’re talking about providing total security to the entire eastern seaboard through nuclear deterrence. I simply can’t fathom why anyone would oppose this.”
On Tuesday, the U.S. senate granted the Department of Defense the authorization it needs to install up to five intercontinental ballistic missile silos underneath the Tidal Basin, a man-made reservoir constructed in the 1880’s which separates the Washington Channel from the Potomac River. Each silo will contain an LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBM, which has the capacity to carry up to three 500 kiloton warheads.
“These rockets have a range of about eight thousand miles, so they’re more than capable of striking targets in Russia, Iran, and North Korea; or, frankly, anyone anywhere in the world who threatens the safety and security of United States for that matter,” Addison Twomey, a retired Air Force colonel, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday.
GOP presidential candidate and U.S. senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx), who sits on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, voiced support for the decision to install the ICBM silos, saying, “It’s Congress’s job to decide what is best for D.C. and its residents and in this case that’s what we’ve done. We’re creating jobs and security, two things the Obama administration has – for eight years – failed to do.”
Senator Cruz believes the ICBM silos will also serve to boost tourism in Washington, D.C. “People like to see this sort of thing. That’s why the Nevada Test Site is such a popular tourist destination. It’s a part of American history, it’s what makes this country great.” Mr. Cruz said that even if he isn’t elected in November, he still plans to bring his family to Washington “to carry on our tradition of strolling along the Tidal Basin and admiring the cherry blossoms,” and – once they’re complete – the ballistic missile silos.
Historically, Minuteman III ballistic missiles have been stationed at four U.S. Air Force bases located in North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. Congress’s decision to allow the Pentagon to install additional ICBM silos in Washington, D.C. marks the first time nuclear weapons will be deployed outside of a secure military installation.