: The missile itself exploded, not its nuclear payload. See Wikipedia for an overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Damascus_Titan_missile_ex...
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.
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
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.
> [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...
Specific to the incident here, only 1 of 4 safety mechanisms prevented an catastrophic incident. The details in the wikipedia page  about this incident is well worth a read.
t. DOE contractor
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.
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.
> 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.
You'll love the fact that you can still play Red Alert online for free!
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."
An entity capable of executing that recovery operation is capable of making their own, buying one from a less savory nation state, etc.
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.
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.
"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."
Imagine if the practice nukes armed with an “ARM” command, but the real ones expect “ARM\n”… that kinda stuff.
Phil Ochs wrote a song about this, "The Scorpion Departs, But Never Returns".
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.
Two in this list were from accidents on aircraft and submarine with tactical nuclear weapons. Tactical nuclear weapons weren't removed until later.
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.
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.
"The US" wouldn't. People in the US with great political power would.
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 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.
: an assumption or concession made for the sake of argument
: an interpretation of a practical situation or condition taken as the ground for action
: a tentative assumption made in order to draw out and test its logical or empirical consequences
: 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.
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.)
Their nuclear tech was NOT home grown.
Israel hadn’t even crossed my mind.
I assume you are referring to Israel. Just come out and say it.
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.
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:
So surreptitiously gifting them isn't a permanent solution.
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.
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’.
There could be more recent accidents that aren’t publicly known.
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! :-)
Doesn't that mean the materials therein are still good?
The US had Operation Chrome Dome shuffling them around by air.
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):
> 6. OVERVIEW OF THE MEDICAL ASPECTS
> 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.
"US military is missing just six nuclear weapons.
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?
(I used to know one of the scientists who helped in this recovery. He wrote a book about it.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
: The missile itself exploded, not its nuclear payload. See Wikipedia for an overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Damascus_Titan_missile_ex...