Oops with nukes

Thank God the Cold War is over. Turns out that while we were all worried about some enemy deliberately starting a nuclear war, the US military was busy trying to cover up hundreds of accidents involving its own nuclear weapons.

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According to THE BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS, US nuclear weapons have been involved in well over a thousand accidents in the decades since World War II — accidents which mostly went unacknowledged by military officials. Highlights include a massive fuel-tank explosion next to a nuke-laden B-47, a helicopter that crashed while carrying nuclear missiles, and at least two instances in which “nuclear-tipped anti-aircraft missiles” were inadvertently launched.

Things have calmed down since the collapse of the Soviet Union, now that the US has cut back on the number of nukes it keeps at the ready. Still, the article counts 96 nuclear accidents since 1988 — most of which the Defense Department is keeping mum about.


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  • Vince Beiser, a former Mother Jones senior editor, has reported from more than 30 countries—on troop training in Iraq, natural disasters in Haiti, and prison conditions in California.