Officials Insist Nukes Lost on Weekend Could Have Been Used if Needed

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military temporarily lost contact with 50 nuclear armed missiles over the weekend, but Defense Department officials insist that the missiles could have been launched at any time if needed.

A military official from Global Strike Command said Wednesday that early on Saturday morning five ground control centers at Warren Air Force Base, each of which has launch control for the same 50 nuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missiles, experienced a communication glitch that caused them all to lose contact with the 50 nukes for about 45 minutes.

The Air Force could have, if needed, launched any of these 50 missiles using a separate air platform, which this official could not discuss in detail because of its classified status.

The United States Air Force has a total of 450 active ICBMs in the country.

Four of the control centers came back on line within an hour, but one of them is still off-line while experts attempt to diagnose the technical breakdown. Officials are confident this was not a result of human error.

More On This...

This official said there are even more redundancies beyond the air platform, which are also classified in nature.

"At no time was the wartime readiness compromised," this official said.

Military leadership, including Secretary of the Air Force Mike Donly, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were briefed on the issue over the weekend.

The White House declined to comment when the President Obama might have learned of the communication breakdown.