WASHINGTON — Twice this year alone, Air Force officers entrusted with the launch keys to nuclear-tipped missiles have been caught leaving open a blast door that is intended to help prevent a terrorist or other intruder from entering their underground command post, Air Force officials have told The Associated Press.
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Bruce Blair, who served as an ICBM launch control officer in the 1970s and is an advocate for phasing out the ICBM force, said violations should be taken seriously. “This transgression might help enable outsiders to gain access to the launch center, and to its super-secret codes,” Blair said. That would increase the risk of unauthorized launch or of compromising codes that might consequently have to be invalidated in order to prevent unauthorized launches, he said. “Such invalidation might effectively neutralize for an extended period of time the entire U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal and the president’s ability to launch strategic forces while the Pentagon scrambles to re-issue new codes,” he added.