Across the plains and beneath the surface of the seas, the United States has taken another step away from the Cold War by no longer targeting its nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles at Russia, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.
As a result of the summit between President Clinton and Russia's President Boris Yeltsin last January, the superpowers agreed to try to seek greater stability in the deployment of their weapons of mass destruction by May 30.The two former adversaries agreed to treat each other in a non-adversarial way by moving further away from a decades-old policy of having nuclear armed, continent-spanning missiles targeted on the other nation's key military, political, and industrial centers.
Land- and sea-based intercontinental missiles armed with nuclear warheads now have been reprogramed to have no target or to have coordinates bringing the warhead down over the oceans.
Pentagon spokeswoman Kathleen de Laski said the mutual retargeting was "an important symbolic gesture" - new coordinates can be programed into the missile guidance system within minutes - and that it reinforces the sense that the United States and Russia are no longer nuclear adversaries. About 550 U.S. missiles were retargeted.