With all the [recent press] about North Korea, we're forgetting that the world is still staring down the barrels of thousands of U.S. and Russian ICBMs.
Of the 7,000 U.S. strategic weapons [aimed at Russia], 2,500 are deployed on intercontinental ballistic missiles that are constantly maintained on hair-trigger alert ready for immediate launching, while the U.S. also maintains some 2,688 hydrogen bombs on missiles in its 14 Trident submarines, most ready for instantaneous launching.
According to the Center for Defense Information, a group that analyzes U.S. defence policy, in the event of a suspected attack, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Air Command has only three minutes to decide if a nuclear attack warning is valid. He has 10 minutes to locate the president for a 30-second briefing on attack options, and the president then has three minutes to decide to launch the warheads and to consider which pre-set targeting plan to use.
[Excerpted from an article by Helen Caldicott, president of the Washington-based Nuclear Policy Research Institute]