Posted by Wordsmith on 22 September, 2013 at 4:35 pm. Be the first to comment!


Lawfare Blog:

In a recently declassified 1969 document titled “How I Learned to Mistrust the H Bomb,” Parker F. Jones—the supervisor of the nuclear weapons safety department at Sandia national laboratories—describes just how close we came to that apocalyptic event. The answer is very close.

In 1961, a B-52 carrying two Mark 39 H-Bombs disintegrated in midair over Greensboro, North Carolina. The 24-megaton bombs—hundreds of times more powerful than those released over Hiroshima—released from the plane, and would have annihilated a large swath of the Eastern Seaboard but for one safety switch.

The most fascinating revelation from the document is the systemic fragility of the redundant safety apparatuses: the bombs only had four mechanisms to prevent accidental deployment, two of which Jones claims were “not effective in the air.” A third failed during the fall. As a result, “[o]ne simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe!”

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