North Dakota finds itself on the frontlines of the nuclear conflict
On November 17, 1969, formal Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT) began in Finland, setting the stage for two and a half years of negotiations between America and the Soviet Union concerning nuclear arms.
The Great Plains became the nation’s battleground during the Cold war, becoming home to hundreds of Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABMs).
The US Government saw great value in housing their nuclear arsenal in Great Plains states for a number of reasons, including 1) the shortest distance to the Soviet Union from the US was over the North Pole; 2) there would be greater warning time for inland sites vs. coastal sites if submarines launched enemy warheads; and 3) the rural nature of the Great Plains meant less lives were directly at risk if the Soviet Union launched a nuclear attack on America’s arms.
North Dakota was one of the key states players in the Cold War. At the conflict’s height, the state housed more than 300 ICBMs and 30 ABMs, a total that—if North Dakota was its own country—would have made it the world’s third-largest nuclear power. At the time, it housed the most extensive nuclear arsenal of any state.
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