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An array of defense experts, ranging from retired Air Force four-stars to members of Congress and academicians, argued Sept. 17 that the nuclear deterrent force is as important to US security today as it was in the Cold War, but it must be modernized. Citing President Vladimir Putin’s statements that Russia might use nuclear weapons to constrain a conventional conflict, and their possession by China and North Korea, retired US Strategic Command boss Gen. Robert Kehler said “nuclear weapons are not gone, and are not going to be gone any time soon.” They are still part of the defense policies “of many nations around the world.” The same argument was offered by former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Welch and Frank Miller, a former non-proliferation official, who joined the bipartisan congressional delegation from North Dakota in supporting retention and improvement of the US nuclear triad. The speakers also disputed the claims by anti-nuclear groups that eliminating nuclear weapons would be a “humanitarian” step, asserting that they have prevented conflict between major powers since 1945, in contrast to the massive destruction of 20th century conventional wars. The forum was held by the Minot, N.D., chamber of commerce, Task Force 21, and the Air Force Association.