Dave Lindorff: The Air Force Coverup of that Minot-Barksdale Nuclear Missile Flight

“It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.” — Pentagon official

There is something deeply disturbing about the Air Force’s official report on the Aug. 29-30 “bent spear” incident that saw six nuclear warheads get mounted on six Advanced Cruise Missiles and improperly removed from a nuclear weapons storage bunker at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, then get improperly loaded on a B-52, and then get improperly flown to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana — a report that attributed the whole thing to a “mistake.”

According to the Air Force report, some Air Force personnel mounted the warheads on the missiles (which are obsolete and slated for destruction), and another ground crew, allegedly not aware that the missiles were armed with nukes, moved them out and mounted them on a launch pylon on the B-52’s wing for a flight to Barksdale and eventual dismantling. Only on the ground at Barksdale did ground crew personnel spot the nukes, according to the report. (Six other missiles with dummy warheads were mounted on a pylon on the other wing of the plane.)

The problem with this explanation for the first reported case of nukes being removed from a weapons bunker without authorization in 50 years of nuclear weapons, is that those warheads, and all nuclear warheads in the U.S. stockpile, are supposedly protected against unauthorized transport or removal from bunkers by electronic antitheft systems — automated alarms similar to those used by department stores to prevent theft, and even anti-motion sensors that go off if a weapon is touched or approached without authorization.

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