US Nuclear Weapon Abandoned in Greenland

Don’t get too alarmed: it happened back in January, 1968, when a US B-52 bomber with four nuclear bombs on board crashed a few miles from an airbase near Thule, Greenland – then, as now, a self-governing province of Denmark. The first real problem was that there weren’t supposed to be nuclear weapons there in the first place, as the Danish had only approved the base for use in monitoring for a possible Soviet ICBM attack on the US over the North Pole, not as having anything to do with nuclear weapons themselves. And secondly, only three of those bombs were recovered from the crash site, but US authorities kept quiet about that, instead maintaining that all the weapons had been destroyed in the crash. In reality, three months later they sent a submarine to the area to look some more for the weapon, but with instructions for the officers in charge to lie about their mission to the Danish authorities, stating instead that they were there simply to survey the sea-bottom.

All of these revelations are thanks to some reporting by the BBC, mainly from declassified US documents it got hold of through the US Freedom of Information Act. You can read all about this, in English, on the BBC News website here. What I find strange is how little echo there is in the Danish press. Yes, one of the Danish dailies, Politiken, has put up an article which mainly re-states the details of the BBC story (USA keeps atom-bomb secret from Denmark, although this piece did contribute the fact that that US base at Thule was authorized only for monitoring activities). And today I also happened to be listening to one of the Danmarks Radio hourly newscasts and heard a brief report about this. But none of the rest of Denmark’s print media seemed to have picked the story up. Because it’s old news? Because it’s embarrassing to recount how Denmark was misled by a powerful ally?

UPDATE: OK, now the reaction is setting in, and the Danish media is finally coming to grips with the story. Berlingske Tidende, for one, has an article: H-bomb in Greenland makes headlines again. You can tell by the way the headline is phrased, plus that they write “But the story is not new” in the lede, that the Berlingske editors are sensitive to accusation of getting to this story late. Meanwhile, Politiken once again forges ahead with its coverage: it has a new article, by Sanne Fahnøe (Denmark knew about the missing atom-bomb) that cites a historian from the Danish Institute for International Studies that the Danish authorities knew full well that the Americans were searching for their missing nuclear weapon. Oh, and the other main daily, Jyllands-Posten, reports that experts declare that that bomb, even though still unrecovered, no longer poses any danger to anyone.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Comments are closed.