Lost nuclear bombs

The very first bomb that the Allies dropped on Berlin in World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo, it is said. The NATO attack on Serbia in 1999 (the Kosovo war) killed more animals than people.

“Smart” weapons, such the Tomahawk missile is supposed to hit a postage stamp at 300km or more (200 miles or more). But only two out of thirteen actually hit the target. During the Bosnia war, one skimmed over a farm house a few miles off target, straight up a track, through bushes, and exploded in the farmer’s field, killing seven sheep, one cow and a goat. The farmer kept the missile nosecone as a souvenir. 

US and NATO militaries used depleted uranium penetrator rounds in the Bosnian War and in the bombing of Serbia.

To err is human. To really mess things up you need a computer

Man’s worst invention

On October 5, 1960, an early-warning system warned the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) of a massive Soviet nuclear missile strike approaching the United States. What happened is that a fault in a computer system had removed two zeros from the radar’s ranging components, detecting the missile attack at 4 000km (2,500 miles) away. The radar was actually detecting a reflection from the moon, located 400 000km (250,000 miles) away.

On June 3, 1980, a massive Soviet missile attack was again registered by computers. 100 nuclear-armed B-52s were immediately put on alert. A computer fault was detected in time, but three days later the same error occurred and again the bombers were put on alert. The problem was later traced to the failure of an integrated circuit in a computer, which was producing random digits representing the number of missiles detected.

On January 10, 1984, Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, recorded a message that one of its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles was about to launch from its silo due to a computer malfunction. To prevent the possible launch, an armoured car was parked on top of the silo.

The history of nuclear weapon accidents is as old as their introduction

The US Department of Defense (DoD) first published a list of nuclear weapon accidents in 1968 which detailed 13 serious nuclear weapon accidents between 1950-1968. An updated list released in 1980 catalogued 32 accidents. At the same time, documents released by the Navy under the Freedom of Information Act cited 381 nuclear weapon incidents between 1965 and 1977.

Broken Arrow! 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash

From Wikipedia: On 21 January 1968, an aircraft accident, sometimes known as the Thule affair or Thule accident, involving a United States Air Force (USAF) B-52 bomber occurred near Thule Air Base in the Danish territory of Greenland. The aircraft was carrying four B28FI thermonuclear bombs on a Cold War “Chrome Dome” alert mission over Baffin Bay when a cabin fire forced the crew to abandon the aircraft before they could carry out an emergency landing at Thule Air Base. Six crew members ejected safely, but one who did not have an ejection seat was killed while trying to bail out. The bomber crashed onto sea ice in North Star Bay,[a] Greenland, causing the conventional explosives aboard to detonate and the nuclear payload to rupture and disperse, resulting in radioactive contamination of the area.

Nuclear cases at sea

A number of nuclear cases involve ships or submarines colliding at sea or, in some cases, submarine nuclear power units becoming unstable and the subs having to be abandoned. According to Greenpeace No Nukes there have been more than 120 submarine accidents since 1956.

In August 2000, Russian nuclear submarine Kursk was lost in the Barents Sea. The Kursk is the seventh nuclear submarine lost, five of them Russian, two American.

There are 92 known cases of nuclear bombs lost at sea.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was established in 1968, yet there are more than 23,000 nuclear weapons ready for firing.

French nuclear test, Mururoa atoll, French Polynesia, 1971.

Nuclear terms

Nuceflash: any accidental or unauthorised incident involving a possible detonation of a nuclear weapon.

Broken Arrow: the seizure, theft, loss or accidental detonation of a nuclear weapon or component other than war risk.

Bent Spear: any significant nuclear weapon incidents other than accidents or war risk detonations.

Dull Sword: a nuclear weapon incident other than “significant” incidents.

Faded Giant: any nuclear reactor or radiological accidents involving equipment used or in custody of the Navy.

War is not healthy

When bombs started falling in Belgrade in 1999, most of the pregnant animals in the zoo aborted their young or delivered prematurely. The bombs hit out power and water supplies, leaving the sea lions and polar bears to suffer from exposure. Prince, a 300kg (660 lb) Bengal tiger was so disturbed that he began chewing off his own paws.

War is not healthy for children and other living things. “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

The above quote is often attributed to Einstein but in 1947, when asked what new weapons might be employed in World War III, he actually replied –

“I don’t know what weapons might be used in World War III. But there isn’t any doubt what weapons will be used in World War IV.” “Stone spears.”

To see how bad a nuclear explosion can be, see the computer simulation of the effects of nuclear detonations on Nukemap.

In 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

02/09/2010. Category: war. Tags: , .

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