America’s Nuclear Arsenal Still Runs Off Floppy Disks
America just got a reminder that its nuclear arsenal is old and getting older. On last night’s 60 Minutes, Lesley
Stahl met two “missileers” charged with watching over and controlling
Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles in Wyoming, and the
control room was not what Stahl-or I-expected: There’s no “big button,” but there are floppy disks.
According to a study by the nonpartisan Stimson Center, it
would cost at least $352 billion over the next decade to operate and
modernize America’s current arsenal. The Minuteman IIIs alone are
undergoing a $7 billion upgrade. So, one hopes that the floppies will
soon go back to being associated with Number Munchers, rather than a
nuclear apocalypse. If you watch the 60 Minutes segment, you’ll
notice that the phones are also quite old, though it’s mentioned that
they’re “looking at upgrading” them “in the next few years.” A bad
connection sure would be an embarrassing way to start World War III. But
old phones and floppies are only part of the problem.
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