As a nuclear missileer with his finger on the trigger of the world’s most powerful weapon, Air Force 1st Lt. Andy Parthum faces pressures few others know. He spends his workday awaiting an order he hopes never arrives: to launch nuclear-tipped missiles capable of killing millions and changing the course of history.
Top Air Force officials described a persistent culture of “undue stress and fear” that led 92 out of 550 members of the military’s nuclear missile corps to be involved in cheating on a monthly proficiency test on which they felt pressured to get perfect scores to get promoted.
Key members of the Air Force’s nuclear missile force are feeling ‘burnout’ from what they see as exhausting, unrewarding and stressful work, according to an unpublished study obtained by The Associated Press.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says neither Iran nor North Korea is capable of attacking the United States with a missile armed with a nuclear warhead.
North Korea vowed Tuesday to restart a nuclear reactor that can make one bomb’s worth of plutonium a year, escalating tensions already raised by near daily warlike threats against the United States and South Korea.