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USA: 1960s nuclear near-miss revealed

The blast from one of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War Two. Picture: Getty

The blast from one of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War Two. Picture: Getty

A NUCLEAR weapon 260 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima nearly detonated over the east coast of the US in 1961, recently declassified documents have revealed.

Two bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on January 24,1961 after a B-52 bomber broke up in flight. One of the bombs apparently acted as if it was being armed and fired - its parachute opened and trigger mechanisms engaged.

In documents from 1969 Parker F. Jones, a safety supervisor at the Sandia national weapons laboratories in New Mexico, stated that one simple switch was all that was prevented a nuclear catastrophe.

Jones wrote: “The MK39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne-alert role in the B-52.

“One simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe!” Jones added that a hydrogen bomb detonating over the US would be “bad news - in spades”.

Author Eric Schlosser discovered the document through the Freedom of Information Act.

It is featured in his new book on nuclear arms, ‘Command and Control,’ which reports that through FOI he discovered that at least 700 “significant” accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded between 1950 and 1968.

 

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