One after another, U.S. senior officials including Defense Secretary Mark Esper have released photos of their visits to military exercises on major nuclear strategic assets such as the land-based ICBM Minuteman III and ballistic missile submarines.
Military gurus analyze that such moves have put pressure on Beijing, which relationship with Washington is ever worsening in almost every aspect, and Moscow showing lack of enthusiasm about a nuclear non-proliferation agreement, while posing an implicit threat to Pyongyang that refuses to give up on nuclear weapons.
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea tweeted on Friday (local time) photos of the Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota where warheads of Minuteman III were put together and relevant trainings and checks were carried out with him in presence. The post showed Billingslea watching Gen. Timothy M. Ray, commander of U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command in charge of the B-52 heavy bomber, and air force troops install three mock warheads to Minuteman III.
It is a rare occasion that a U.S. official releases photos describing how Minuteman III warheads are put together. Equipped with three warheads of 300 to 450 kilotons, Minuteman III is one of the top three U.S. nuclear weapons along with nuclear bombers and strategic nuclear submarines.
It only takes half an hour to reach Pyongyang once it launches in California. “Incredible @TeamMinot airmen conducting snap exercise and maintaining our Minutemen III missiles at a high state of readiness,” wrote Ambassador Marshall Billingslea. He is playing a leading role in negotiations with Russia on a new type of nuclear non-proliferation agreement, a replacement of New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) that expires next year. Back in 2018, Billingslea served as assistant secretary for terrorist financing in the United States Department of the Treasury to track down on illegal trade activities around the border area between North Korea and China and on the sea, contributing to implementing sanctions against North Korea.
Defense Secretary Esper tweeted on Saturday photos of himself talking to naval members on a ballistic missile submarine at the berth at the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay located near the city of St. Marys in Camden County, Georgia. “America’s ballistic missile submarines remain the most survivable and powerful deterrents on earth,” he wrote.
Sang-Ho Yun email@example.com