Are Cold War's Lost Nukes Still Ticking?
Dozens of weapons lost in accidents decades ago are still out there and still deadly
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2008 7:20 PM CST
This black-and-white photo provided by the U.S. Air Force shows a giant column of dark smoke rising more than 20,000 feet into the air after an atomic bomb explosion.   (AP Photo/USAF)
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(Newser) – Dozens of American A-bombs lost in Cold War accidents are corroding around the world, Der Spiegel reports. The US admits to misplacing 11, but German nuclear expert Otfried Nassauer says up to 50 went down, mostly in plane crashes. Bombers either collided with tanker planes or, short on fuel, plunged into the sea, says Nassauer, who recounts some of the more spectacular incidents and discusses the dangers they may still pose.

Most lie on the ocean floor, beyond human reach, but one remains in shallow waters outside of Savannah and another in a swamp near Goldsboro, NC. Nassauer says terrorists will never dig up nukes that Washington couldn't, but radiation and explosions remain a concern. "This risk is somewhat greater with the bombs that were lost on land," he says. "Virtually nothing is known about whether such bombs can explode spontaneously."

 

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