Loose Nukes

It’s still very hard to fathom how something like this can happen, even accidentally. I realize that there are occasional bureaucratic snafus in any multi-layered system, even one as sophisticated as the U.S. military, but I simply cannot wrap my head around the notion that an Air Force bomber accidentally flew six cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads across the country — and no one realized the nuclear-armed missiles were missing for several hours.

An Air Force B-52 bomber flew across the central United States last week with six cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads that were mistakenly attached to the airplane’s wing, defense officials said yesterday.

The Stratofortress bomber, based at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, was transporting a dozen Advanced Cruise Missiles to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana on Aug. 30. But crews inadvertently loaded half of them with nuclear warheads attached.

Larry Johnson argued that this may have something to do with Iran, Josh Marshall noted that he’s heard from knowledgeable sources that this really was just a “pretty damn serious accident,” and Atrios added, “I have no idea if it really has anything to do with Iran, but the idea that nukes just happen to accidentally climb aboard a bomber is a wee bit absurd. There’s some story here.”


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.