Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) were first deployed by the United States in 1959 and continue to be a critical weapon in the American nuclear arsenal today. ICBMs had ranges between 6,000 to 9,300 miles, making virtually any target in the world vulnerable. Due to their powerful and deadly nature ICBMs are considered a strategic defensive weapon, though they are purely offensive in nature. The idea is that any nuclear armed opponent will think twice before attacking the United States with nuclear weapons because retaliation will be swift and cause unfathomable destruction. This idea, though never an official American military policy, is known as Mutually Assured Destruction and helped keep an uneasy peace during the Cold War. To learn more about the different types of ICBMs click on the links below.