With North Korea threatening, Senators emphasize Montana's role as nuclear deterrent

Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) are looking at the recent North Korea threats as one more reason to support a strong nuclear weapon arsenal, especially in Montana.

Tester and Baucus recently urged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to maintain a strong nuclear arsenal. They said nuclear weapons give a strong deterrent to North Korea and other unfriendly nations that are developing or want to have a nuclear weapons program.

"The U.S. faces an increasingly capable and bellicose nuclear North Korea," Tester and Baucus, members of the Senate ICBM Coalition, said. "We understand difficult decisions will have to be made, but we would strongly object to any proposals that would reduce our nation's most cost-effective strategic assets."

The U.S. has three types of nuclear weapons: land based missiles in silos, missiles aboard submarines and bombers, and ICBMS, which are the most cost effective. Tester and Baucus urged Hagel to support the modernization of all the nation's ICBMs.

Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana, maintains 150 ICBMs, which had recently undergone some modernization efforts. Malmstrom also accounts for over 40 percent of the economy in north-central Montana and provides about 5,000 jobs. The senators said Malmstrom's missiles are the centerpiece of America's defense strategy.