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The U.S. military is missing six nuclear weapons (2021) (nationalinterest.org)
220 points by neverminder 77 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 138 comments

I rather enjoyed reading Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety which covers a few of these events in more detail, as well as the 1980 Damascus Titan missile explosion[1] and some broader history about the security and management of US nuclear weapons.

[1]: The missile itself exploded, not its nuclear payload. See Wikipedia for an overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Damascus_Titan_missile_ex...

Was 9 years old and living in Little Rock at the time. Just 20 or 30 miles away. Remember the news reports and my proto-survivalist mom going into action. Telling me everything we’d have to do if the nuke went off.

Had relatives who lived not too far off from Damascus. I remember driving that way past the silos. Even as a kid, you could easily pick out the silos. They were hidden behind foliage with no identifying signs. But each and every one had the exact same driveway and culverts. Very different than the farm entrances and dirt roads. It was a weird time. Driving past a bunch of possible world-enders on the way to see Aunt Gloria.

That scene in The Day After, when the ICBMs were launched from the silos based out of a farm, hit me particularly hard. That’s what rural central Arkansas would have looked like.

Looking up broken arrow incidents is pretty horrifying. Wikipedia's "military nuclear accidents" list isn't even a full list - just notable ones - and it's still absurdly long: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_nuclear_accid...

July 28, 1957, two nukes jettisoned from airplane into the Atlantic, never recovered. February 5, 1958, bomber collides mid-air, jettisons nuke off coast of Georgia, never recovered. July 6, 1959, cargo plane crashes on takeoff, explosives do not go off in the fire. January 24, 1961, bomber catches fire while in air, two hydrogen bombs dropped over North Carolina, one comes close to detonation.

And on, and on, and on. America in the Cold War kept nuclear weapons continuously aloft along the Soviet border, but the program experienced so many crashes that it had to be scuttled. In the final one, the nuclear payload ruptured: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Thule_Air_Base_B-52_crash

These days it's just easier to do accidental population scale brain damage with a twitter account.

> two hydrogen bombs dropped over North Carolina, one comes close to detonation

I think this part is BS. Nuclear weapons don’t detonate on accident, it requires delicate synchronized process, guarded by authorization codes which aren’t normally present on the launch platform itself. Without authorization codes a nuclear weapon is just a big slightly radioactive pile of metal.

> One simple, dynamo-technology low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe!

> [the] bomb did not possess adequate safety... The unalterable conflusion is that the only effective safing device during airborne alert was the ready-safe switch

> If a short to an "arm" line occurred in a mid-air breakup, a postulate that seems credible, the Mk 39 Mod 2 bomb could have given a nuclear burst.


Parker Jones, nuclear weapons safety specialist at Sandia National Laboratories in a formerly-classified 1969 document obtained by FOIA in 2013. Request was actually made by Eric Schlosser during his writing of Command and Control, the book GP mentions: https://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/sep/20/go...

Iirc, 3 of the 4 safety systems had tripped. This switch is an actual, wired switch.


The book referenced in the original comment (Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety) specifically digs in to the limitations behind the safety mechanisms.

Specific to the incident here, only 1 of 4 safety mechanisms prevented an catastrophic incident. The details in the wikipedia page [1] about this incident is well worth a read.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1961_Goldsboro_B-52_crash

Older nuclear weapons were not nearly as hardened as modern ones. For a good introduction, I recommend Sandia’s three part documentary Always/Never: The Quest for Safety, Control, and Survivability.

t. DOE contractor

Codes were probably just 0000 anyway

This situation doesn’t seem to be widely known.

Because it's almost certainly false. The source for this is Bruce Blair, who while is a credible source on matters of nuclear armament, would not have been privy to this information.

The DoD has refuted the claim made by Dr. Blair also insisting that he was never in a position or authorized to know these codes. Furthermore, the House Armed Services Committee which investigated this matter was unable to find anyone else to corroborate the claim. If Dr. Blair's claims were true, there would certainly be one other officer (retired by now) who would be able to confirm it as part of a Congressional investigation, and yet everyone who was in a position to know this has said the claim is false.

Were they guarded by authorization codes in 1961 when that incident happened? Kennedy's executive order to install PALs on nuclear weapons just in Europe was in 1962. The early days of nuclear weapons were the wild west.

> The early days of nuclear weapons were the wild west.

They certainly were! Once we had a working bomb, we first used it to blow up cities and people. After that, we decided that uninhabited islands and atolls were our real enemy, and bombed those instead of cities and people. Now we don’t even blow up the bombs anymore, we just pretend to blow them up on computers.

I concur, Command and Control is a very interesting book. Also, while the Damascus Titan missile explosion is well known, there was also a horrific fire in a Titan silo in 1965 that killed 53 workers. (Weirdly, the missile present at the time was the same one in the Damascus explosion, although it wasn't armed with a nuclear bomb in the first incident.) On the topic of Titan, the Titan Missile Museum near Tucson is worth a visit if you're in the area.


> The initial explosion catapulted the 740-ton silo door away from the silo.

> The W53 thermonuclear warhead landed about 100 feet (30 m) from the launch complex's entry gate.

Crazy to move that much weight and Lucky to have the warhead intact.

It was probably not "intact". Just still contained all the nuclear material.

I enjoyed Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 even more!


You'll love the fact that you can still play Red Alert online for free!

too bad there was a slower paced more casual version - yellow alert or defcon 5

Red Alert 2 > Red Alert 3


Your link sent me down a two-hour rabbithole involving the Vela Incident and the treatment of Mordechai Vanunu.

Thanks for the recommendations!

1950 - Plane with engine trouble dropped over Pacific Ocean so that when it might crash it wouldn't crash with a nuclear bomb on it.

1956 - B-47 ran out of gas over Mediterranean.

1958 - B-47 having difficulty to land jettisoned somewhere near Wassaw Sound near the mouth of the Savannah River so that it wouldn't crash with a nuclear bomb bon it.

1961 - B-52 crashed shortly after taking off. Most of it was dug up. (Dr. Jack ReVelle obituary from Jan 2023 - https://www.ncrabbithole.com/p/jack-revelle-goldsboro-nc-bro... )

1965 - A-4E rolled off the deck of the USS Ticonderoga into the Pacific Ocean near Japan (Japan wasn't happy about it)

1968 - USS Scorpion attack sub sank somewhere near the Azores Islands.


This isn't a "hey, there are a bunch of nukes out there in the hands of (more) irresponsible people."

Also the Scorpion wreck has been surveyed twice and imaging shows the nuclear weapons are still there in the wreck. Wreck is ~3k meters deep, so no one is going down there to get themselves a 1960s vintage nuke whose only value is the fissile material.

An entity capable of executing that recovery operation is capable of making their own, buying one from a less savory nation state, etc.

I would hope even small nation states have greater resources than James Cameron.

If you think about it, the actual disposable wealth of a lot of small nations is probably less than what Cameron himself could marshal and spend if he wanted to. A nation in the best case needs to get the buy in of its people and administrators in order to spend a large sum of money on an expensive project. The budget for that project has to compete with all of the other expenses and ambitions that the nation has.

The difference is that for James Cameron's projects could rely on buying existing expertise from contractors. A small nation has to build that themselves in secret.

One would, but well he is James Cameron.

Any determined nation could take that.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if someone hasn't already taken it, and left a dummy weapon in its place.

Sure, deep sea exploration by humans is hard... But using unmanned craft, they're mostly impervious to pressure.

They could be nice honeypot locations for the US to continuously monitor, to see who turns up with robotic submersibles. An early warning system for identifying actors with nuclear aspirations.

Why bother? You could get uranium much more easily from other sources.

It's already enriched and comes with a working design.

For a non-nuclear nation, that would be all they'd need to become a nuclear nation.

Then blow it up in a test explosion to show the world, and then they could work slowly on making another bomb while bluffing that they have lots ready to go.

Wow I just looked up the second last one, what a crazy event.


"The attack jet fell over the side during a training exercise while being rolled from the number 2 hangar bay to the number 2 elevator. The pilot, the aircraft, and the B43 nuclear bomb were never recovered from the 16,000 ft depth."

Wait, they train with live nukes? Why? Just in case the US needs to nuke North Korea? A military exercise is taking place as we speak, all while Kim Jong Um is launching ICBMs and issuing threats to show off.

Probably because the only real way to know you can fly with real nukes is to fly with real nukes. Anyone who has done integration testing with mocked stuff knows you never have a perfect analog.

Imagine if the practice nukes armed with an “ARM” command, but the real ones expect “ARM\n”… that kinda stuff.

Or "arm, please"... nuclear weapons demand respect :)

"That’s not very typical, I’d like to make that point."

Thank you. Both for the list, and for giving me a quick way to check that this is still about those six old incidents, and not some six new ones.

More recently, in 2007, six AGM-129 ACM cruise missiles, each loaded with a W80-1 variable yield nuclear warhead, were mistakenly loaded onto a United States Air Force (USAF) B-52H heavy bomber at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and transported to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. The nuclear warheads in the missiles were supposed to have been removed before the missiles were taken from their storage bunker. The missiles with the nuclear warheads were not reported missing, and remained mounted to the aircraft at both Minot and Barksdale for 36 hours. During this period, the warheads were not protected by the various mandatory security precautions for nuclear weapons.

What you refer to is different from the conversation about missing weapons that have not been recovered.

> 1968 - USS Scorpion attack sub sank somewhere near the Azores Islands.

Phil Ochs wrote a song about this, "The Scorpion Departs, But Never Returns"[1].

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbiJR-bqSfw

> 1968 - USS Scorpion attack sub sank somewhere near the Azores Islands.

Hadn't really know about that, and I thought I knew lots of stuff about the Cold War.

Also, the Kursk incident that happened ~30 years later and which resulted in approximately the same number of victims (118 vs 99 for the Scorpion) was presented by the Western press as this cataclysmic event for Russia, an event that was proving that the Russian State was of no good, structurally speaking. For comparison, apparently the only thing that the West managed to create about the Scorpion sinking was a song, not even a Hollywood B movie.

What I thought was excruciating about the Kursk, beyond Russia refusing foreign assistance for almost two days, is if it had been stood on end where it sank, the hull would have breached the surface of the water by over 170ft (sank in 330ft of water, hull length 505.2ft). fwiw, Arnaud Jerald holds the world record depth reached by a free diver, 367.5 feet.

Prior to 1968 we lost a nuke on average once every 3 years. Then miraculously after ramping up production not a single one was lost over the next 50...

The change was that in 1968, the Air Force stopped flying active patrols with nuclear armed bombers. They had bombers continuously in the air carrying live nuclear weapons. A lot of the nuclear accidents were really bomber accidents.

Two in this list were from accidents on aircraft and submarine with tactical nuclear weapons. Tactical nuclear weapons weren't removed until later.

If you were to find one of these, would it be easy to set it off?

In short, no.

Most of them are in deep water so recovery alone would be a nigh insurmountable task, they all have been sitting in salt water corroding for 65+ years, and they all have been radioactively decaying for the same period. You'd be remanufacturing them from scratch essentially, and probably could have come by the materials with the same budget that the recovery operation would cost.

Regardless of security, and recovery, and repair expertise, the nuclear explosion point would not work anymore.

Asking for a friend?

Jagdstaffel 66 - Pilot Was Killed


Could they have been delivered to another nation in a clandestine way and reported missing to cover that loss? To me it seems viable and probably if my hypothesis is correct there's a country that became a nuclear power soon after we stopped losing them

It seems unlikely. Most of them were either lost on US soil or lost along with military personnel who died.

But the more convincing logic is: why would the US want to do that? The fewer other nations have nuclear weapons, the more power the US has over them, either because it can threaten to attack them or because it can provide nuclear weapons as a deterrent. Stationing US weapons in a foreign country and getting to set up a forward base? Heck yeah. Giving up control of those weapons and maybe having them turned against you decades down the line? Not a chance.

There was that time that 200 pounds of highly enriched uranium went "missing".


why would the US want to do that?

"The US" wouldn't. People in the US with great political power would.


Maybe they were paid for it. Maybe they were threatened or blackmailed for it. Maybe they feel a political, religious, or ethnic loyalty to another country. Plenty of people in the US are more than happy to do things that run counter to the US' interests. The entire American military-industrial complex directly benefits from the US being more in danger because it means they get more money.

If a Russian colonel aboard a submarine refused direct order to launch a nuke at the height of the cold war, I think we can assume very few are the people ready to deal with nuclear bombs for a buck.

Many things can cross moral boundaries, but I think I d rather deal in drugs and slaves, tanks and assault rifles than uranium, if only for money. And if not for money, only for national survival.

We struggled in France to finish our fusion bomb design and a british double agent pointed us at the best model we had that was similar to the british one, we're not sure if he did it for France or because the British wanted us to have it too, but it wasn't for money, for instance, even if it was a terrible decision to make as a human for him Im sure.

If I could push a button and give three or four nuclear weapons to Ukraine, I'd do it without hesitation.

To transform them into the bad guys instantly? No thanks, I'd rather give them enough troops and conventional weapons so that whatever thing Russia throws at them is being intercepted, and Russian land troops essentially would hit a wall. That way Russia would be forced to either withdraw (= Putin political and possibly physical death), continue until all their conventional arsenal is depleted (= same as above, just later), or resort to nukes (= likely destruction by NATO).

What would Ukraine do with them?

Same thing everyone else does: point at them and say "you can never take our capitol without far more casualties than it is worth".

US wanted to bring nukes to bases in Japan, but Japan's nuclear policy denies bringing nukes (in officially. it wasn't denied under the hood).

> Could they have been delivered to another nation in a clandestine way and reported missing to cover that loss?

If you assume an very slow conspiracy that started in 1950 when the US was denying nuclear technology to the UK despite them helping to develop it during WWII, lasted nearly twenty years to transfer 6 weapons, and involved staging a bunch of accidents and murdering US servicemembers to give it plausibility, sure.

But, realistically, no, this is bad even as conspiracy theories go.

> To me it seems viable and probably if my hypothesis is correct there's a country that became a nuclear power soon after we stopped losing them

The nearest after that would be India, and its not particularly close.

Everything is possible. But please, don't abuse the word "hypothesis". This is reserved for things that are not proven yet but there are some strongly supporting facts and there exists, at least hypothetically, a way to test it.

Wrong, a hypothesis is literally an idea to be tested based on observation.

1 a : an assumption or concession made for the sake of argument b : an interpretation of a practical situation or condition taken as the ground for action

2 : a tentative assumption made in order to draw out and test its logical or empirical consequences

3 : the antecedent

As the US has been observed doing similar things in the past, this is a perfectly valid hypothesis.

How might one test this?

Wait 50 years for the docs to declassify perhaps.

> As the US has been observed doing similar things in the past

The US has not been observed doing similar things to your ridiculous narrative in the past.

(Also, if others have speculated, you intend to refer to Israel, their arms were homegrown, not imported, their main technology partner was France, and while by the very end of the program they were on better terms with the US, through much of the time that you conjecture this conspiracy was happening US-Israel relations weren’t great – see, e.g., the Suez Crisis – so it really doesn’t make all that much sense.)

I have literally been part of them doing similar things in the past. What are you talking about.

Their nuclear tech was NOT home grown.

You just built a straw man for you yourself to disassemble.

Israel hadn’t even crossed my mind.

That's a plot element in "The Sum of All Fears"...how the US delivered weapons-grade plutonium to Israel in 1968.

I hit reply to post this and you beat me to it.

If you want to give another nation nuclear capabilities, you give them plans and documents. You don't give them a live bomb and say, "You figure it out"


I assume you are referring to Israel. Just come out and say it.

Poor inventory practices/ mistake seems most likely compared to a conspiracy that really doesn’t make much sense.

Seems like it would be pretty easy to just claim it was damaged or otherwise remove it from inventory in a way that it doesn’t appear missing…. let alone all sorts of other questions.

This interview explains how nukes can be misplaced, and the nightmarish amount of paperwork afterward:


It's known that the United States provided secret aid to the French nuclear weapons program (seemingly) without actually delivering France a bomb. Seems unlikely that they would have gone further with another country.

US helped France with design. It doesn't make sense to give fissionable material to help country develop nuclear weapons. It is giving them a single bomb. They would need to develop process to produce tons of material if they wanted lots of bombs. The design is the hard part.

There was a great deal of "off the books" quid pro quo in the post WWII Cold War landscape.

The greatest source(s) of raw yellowcake for building the thousands of atomic weapons tested and stored for use during that period was former French | Belgian African territories from mines that were operated with no apparent direct US control.

With US backing and former French administrators, intelligence services and military many coups were staged and puppet governments shored up to ensure the yellowcake must flow.

The following articles barely scratch the surface of the story and region, covering just the early supply period in the better known source:



Nuclear weapons have a shelf life, typically around 10 years, and will need to be remanufactured when they expire.

So surreptitiously gifting them isn't a permanent solution.

are we just making things up now?

Article is from 2021. And the last nuke lost was in 1968. Wondering if all the nukes lost are still viable as a weapon?

None of them are. The material in the weapons needs to be highly enriched to work, and through physics of radioactive decay it's slowly turning itself into less enriched version which wouldn't explode. Nuclear bombs have to be serviced at least once a decade to remain functional. Not to mention that they are incredibly precise devices and any crash will have undoubtedly damaged them beyond any possible repair. The worst you could do with a recovered core is turn it into a dirty bomb(bomb which uses conventional explosives to spread radioactive material around), but any group interested in doing that could surely procure radioactive material without recovering 50 year old bombs from the bottom of the ocean.

U235's half life is 700M years, even Pu242 is 375k. The materials in the neutron sources for the primer/initiator are much lower and those are indeed surely useless now (though there were a lot of variant techniques here and I'm no expert).

But that just means that the bomb's original ignition mechanism can't blow it up in situ. The cores themselves are absolutely still useful.

I wonder if highly enriched weapons grade Pu and Ub would decay faster because of subcritical fission reactions. But I am not a physicist.

It’s unlikely they’re that close to the edge - the purpose of the bomb is to move it as quickly from sub-critical to critical so that as much material as possible can fission before the entire device ‘explosively disassembles’ itself - and therefore stopping the reaction.

The more naturally reactive the material, the harder this is to do.

Usually that’s done by having everything as far from critical as possible until it is already mashed together/at maximum density from the explosive lense, then use a neutron initiator to kick off the actual reaction.

Early weapons (gun type) were very bad at this, so yield/material efficiency was terrible. It’s estimated only 1.5% of the uranium in little boy had a chance to fission when it exploded for instance.

Even the first implosion weapons were far better. Fat man had an estimated 17% efficiency.

Davy Crocket style weapons were only possible because of ever more increasing sophistication on this front.

The total weight of a Davy Crockett warhead was only 4x the critical mass of plutonium would normally be at STP, for instance, and most of that is ‘overhead’.

It depends. If I remember some bombs would use tritium (half life 12 years) to introduce neutrons to ensure chain reaction at right time. As to the fissile material itself, those all have long half lives and should be viable for tens of thousands of years.

How long do these incidents take to be declassified?

There could be more recent accidents that aren’t publicly known.

That was my thought too, most of these happened in the early days of nukes. Hopefully the rate of losses has truly gone to zero post 1968, though I wonder if such a loss would be reported today if it happened.

Actually I am wondering it the number of missing nukes is even higher...

I'd actually be surprised if any of them were viable as a weapon.

I'm guessing the nuclear material is!

The bombs themselves must be useless by now?

I dont know anything whatsoever about any of it.

But at a guess I'd wager the Plutonium and Uranium is still good! :-)

No - both decay slowly into their less enriched isotopes which wouldn't explode. They can be re-manufactured into weapons-grade material again, but any state which has the facilities to do this has the facilities to create fresh cores.

Isn't the shelf life of a nuclear weapon at least 100 years?

Doesn't that mean the materials therein are still good?

The Black Vault was one of my favorite websites when I was a kid. It really opened my eyes up to how much of a joke our world is.


Makes me wonder how many weapons the other nuclear-armed nations have lost and not recovered. Like the US, Russia has thousands of them, and had tens of thousands more during the cold war. How many of them went missing?

Probably two for every lost submarine, at least two subs with two nuclear torpedos each.

The US had Operation Chrome Dome shuffling them around by air.

If US lost "only" 6, one has to wonder how many the Soviets may have lost. Are these bombs still usable? When they decay on some seabed for decades what happens eventually?

It's not the bombs that are worrisome.

The Radiological Accident in Lia, Georgia (country, not state) from 2001 - https://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Pub1660web-81...

> A serious radiological accident occurred in Georgia on 2 December 2001, when three inhabitants of the village of Lia found two metal objects in the forest while collecting firewood. These objects were 90Sr sources with an activity of 1295 TBq. The three inhabitants used the objects as heaters when spending the night in the forest. The major cause of the accident was the improper and unauthorized abandonment of radiation sources in Georgia and the absence of clear labels or radiation signs on the sources warning of the potential radiation hazard. Under the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency (Assistance Convention), the Georgian authorities requested assistance from the IAEA to advise on the dose assessment, source recovery and medical management of those involved in the accident.

There are some interesting things in there with some engineering challenges... but I will warn you that beyond page 36 it is NSFL. That section begins (the text isn't bad unless you know what you're reading):


> Following the exposure on 2 December 2001, all three patients exhibited in the first 24 h symptoms of nausea, vomiting, asthenia (weakness), headaches and dizziness, followed by cutaneous radiation syndrome (CRS). These early clinical manifestations and anamnesis of the patients strongly indicated ARS of a haematological type for the three patients. Furthermore, Patient 1-DN developed transitory oropharyngeal syndrome.

What's scary, this article, or considering how much has been lost by other countries (Soviet Union, China, ..)

"I don't know what's scarier, losing nuclear weapons, or that it happens so often there's actually a term for it."

Haha like an idiot I left my quote before even reading the article and now I see it actually opens with it.

I learned with kids that everything is better is you say "Just".

"US military is missing just six nuclear weapons.

Just found them. They are just in Taiwan."

If one reviews the historical total number of B-36 and B-52 crashes and their causes, the continual operation of "alert" aircraft by SAC back in the cold war era was really quite risky.

> Somewhere near Goldsboro, North Carolina, a uranium core is likely buried in a field. > The United States Army Corps of Engineers purchased a 400-foot circular easement over the buried components to restrict digging.

Is an easement sufficient protection? If there isn't someone around to prevent anyone from digging, then we're just relying on evildoers being afraid of violating property laws?

Easements are aimed less at would-be terrorists than unlucky construction crews.

You think that evildoers might not only be able to conduct an excavation so difficult that it stymied the US military, but that they’d be able to do it without attracting official attention?

If the US military couldn't find it when the scene was fresh, what's the likelihood someone could establish a large and sufficient enough excavation operation to find it, and remove it, before somebody bothered to go "what's all that ruckus about" and call the US military?

I am now expecting to see a movie/TV series with what you described as the plot.

The site is close to main road and farmhouse. The farmer who owns the field is definitely going to notice the heavy equipment. Assuming the coordinates are right, Google Maps shows that there is a stand of trees in middle of field.

I put an Apple air tag on my cat and when he goes missing I can see where he is on Apple Maps.

but (?) only if he's in range of someone's participating bluetooth, which ... transitive closure ... is network connected?

I think any Apple phone detects nearby AirTags and tells the central systems where it is.

The Palomares Incident is a good story too. All 4 lost bombs were recovered. Three on land had exploded (in a non-nuclear manner) and scattered so much radioactive contamination that the US government had to scrape off 6000 barrels worth of Spanish topsoil and ship it back to the states. The fourth bomb fell in the ocean and was recovered through Bayesian analysis with the assistance of an observant Spanish fisherman.


(I used to know one of the scientists who helped in this recovery. He wrote a book about it.)

The scraped soil was only a fraction of what was contaminated. As of 2023 Spain is still in negotiations with the US about removal of contaminated soil.


Notable to mention the Greenland Thule air base crash which effectively created a dirty bomb around the area after the B-52 crash.


Conspiracy: they are planted in Russiam and Chinese cities.

Reality: it would make more sense to fabricate the weapon in secret and hide its existence to begin with than to document it well and use it for secret stuff.

Why would they have to fabricate in secret or use crashed bombs? The number and location of nuclear weapons is tightly held secret. There are so many that there is no way someone else could track them. Anyone in US would wonder where why bombs are at "storage facility".

Also, putting nuclear bombs in foreign cities is a dumb idea. What happens when Russia or China finds one? That is an act of war. It is also unnecessary since US, and Russia and China, have hundreds of ICBMs and SLBMs. Enough to survive any first strike and produce more retaliation than a few hidden bombs could. I could see people in early Cold War thinking it was a good idea, but they would worry about losing control of weapons.

The one place could see hidden nukes is shipping containers. Not ship them around the world, but hold them for retaliation. Keep them in safe location away from targets and has access to untargeted port. Then send them out when shipping resumes after lose nuclear war. But that is very modern.

> The number and location of nuclear weapons is tightly held secret

Location yeah, number no, due to treaties around proliferation and also hard to keep that secret with espionage and all.

> It is also unnecessary since US, and Russia and China, have hundreds of ICBMs and SLBMs

Delivery is the hardest part. Pre-staging is a huge advantage for first-strike to take out enemy leadership/infra and launch missiles so when they are launching their retaliation you are already one step ahead with your second wave. For retaliation, when someone launches nukes it is likely they have good defenses against your retaliation but probably not against your trojan nuke. That element of surprise is a huge advantage.

> The one place could see hidden nukes is shipping containers. Not ship them around the world

They do scan containers randomly, I assume this includes radiation and chemical traces.

First strike is a bad idea. In Russia and likely China, generals have ability to launch the nukes. They are on bases, in bunkers or middle of nowhere, and impossible to hit without missile. They will launch missiles once see that capital is destroyed. For US, we rely on President but there always Cabinet member that will survive.

Also, all the nations have plenty of SLBMs to retaliate after first strike. Pre-deployed nuke might have made sense back when everybody used bombers and first strike was possible. If so, they would have needed multiple of them, more than could disappear. But it would have been even worse idea, leading to WW3. Plus, back then there was no arms control and need to hide bombs.

For containers, I was not talking about deploying them but using them as retaliation. Could detonate them on the ship or launch short-range missiles from the ship.

That they will admit.

But somewhere out there might be a nuclear weapon that is internet enabled under the guise of monitoring.

Remember how the first few generations of military drones didn't even use encryption?


I'd worry far more about if the Russians have lost any of theirs. Their record is not good on this.

Given the last bomb was lost in 1968, this is just fear mongering.

Everybody seems to be counting their plutonium currently

ocean, ocean ocean, ocean, mud, ocean, ocean

Everyone check your pockets.

Did anyone look on ebay?


It's actually not good at all. I trust the US govt having a nuke more than a rando on the planet having a nuke.

Definitely not good. You don't want this sort of thing floating around.

Seems strange that this would need to be explained to anyone.

Why is that?

Please explain your logic.

Well I got clickbaited.

I think I've seen this movie...

Probably starring Gene Hackman and that other guy

At some point we have to assume time travellers are taking all the bombs that did start Armageddon, alternatively our luck might be extremely close to running out.

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