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US nuclear launch officers in charge of 'big red button' in drug use investigation

Air Force probe expands to UK air base and five more in America

US nuclear launch officers in charge of the “big red button” that could wipe out entire cities are being investigated for drug use.

The US Air Force probe has expanded to include 10 officers at a UK airbase and five others in America.

Two nuclear launch control officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana are under investigation, along with nine lieutenants and one captain, for illegal possession of recreational drugs.

Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Brett Ashworth said the case began with the investigation of two officers at Edwards Air Force Base in California and quickly widened to several other bases because of the airmen's contacts with others about drugs.

The probe surfaced on Thursday as Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel visited FE Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming to give a talk to members of the nuclear missile force.

RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, which hosts US Air Force units and staff, is the only British base under investigation.

Others include Schriever Air Force Base in Coloradoa and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California .

No other details about the investigation, which is being conducted by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, are being released.