By Sam Day

A dozen activists gathered near the fence of an underground nuclear missile silo in October to mark the renewal of a campaign to alert fellow North Dakotans about the continuing presence of weapons of mass destruction in the Peace Garden State.

Climaxing the annual meeting of the North Dakota Peace Coalition, President Bryan Palecek led members on a pre-dawn trip across the Missouri River to Launch Site D4, near the town of Max in the Minot Air Force Base missile field. As a volunteer who helped map the silo field more than a decade ago, he had given the missile the ugly name of "Bluddlefilth."

Stern-faced U.S. Marshals and a sheriff's officer greeted the visitors at the approach to the fenced-in silo, saying they were there to maintain law and order. Air Force security personnel observed from a distance. The activists brushed past the officer, insisting on their right to gather 25 feet from the fence.

As dawn broke over the remote prairie site, the activists formed a circle and reflected on the nearby presence of a weapon a hundred times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Bluddlefilth is one of 150 missiles in the Minot field and some 500 in the United States still capable, a decade after the end of the cold war, of wreaking world-wide nuclear destruction. Along with 500 missiles that have since been removed in Missouri, South Dakota, and the Grand Forks field in North Dakota, the launch sites and launch control centers all were mapped by peace activists in the 1980's in a program sponsored by Nukewatch.

Palecek said the North Dakota Peace Coalition hopes to continue vigiling at the active launch sites in the Minot field and at those that have been de-activated in the eastern part of the state.

Sam Day is a board member and former director of Nukewatch currently directing the U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu.