LONDON: The US Air Force came dramatically close to detonating a huge atomic bomb over North Carolina in 1961, according to a newly declassified document published by Britain’s Guardian newspaper on Saturday.

Two hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over the city of Goldsboro, North Carolina on January 23, 1961 when the B-52 plane carrying them broke up in mid-air, according to the file.

One of the bombs began to detonate – a single switch was all that stopped it from doing so. The three other safety mechanisms designed to prevent an unintended detonation failed.

The US government has acknowledged the accident before, but the 1969 document is the first confirmation of how close the United States came to nuclear catastrophe on that day.

“It would have been bad news in spades,” wrote its author, US government scientist Parker F. Jones.

The bomb was 260 times more powerful than the one that devastated Hiroshima in 1945, according to the Guardian.

The accident happened at the height of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The declassified report was obtained by US investigative journalist Eric Schlosser under freedom of information legislation.

“The US government has consistently tried to withhold information from the American people in order to prevent questions being asked about our nuclear weapons policy,” said Schlosser. “We were told there was no possibility of these weapons accidentally detonating, yet here’s one that very nearly did.”

Jones jokingly titled the report “Goldsboro Revisited, or: How I Learned To Mistrust the H-Bomb”, a reference to Stanley Kubrick's classic 1964 film about nuclear armageddon, “Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”.

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Comments (17)

September 21, 2013 8:01 pm

Can a government telling lies to its own people tell the truth to the rest of the world?

Sameen Bawla
September 21, 2013 8:43 pm

Is this a news. Don't you have anything better or productive to report. What could have happened 54 years ago. Please report or write about something productive for our own nation rather than not missing a single chance of reporting even a mosquito bite in the US. I am sure readers expect better than this at least from a newspaper like Dawn.

September 21, 2013 8:46 pm

The world would certainly have been a very different place because: Israel would have been wiped off the map of the world very shortly afterwards having no US ally to help her out all the time. Pakistan would have learned to stand on its own two feet without constant US interference. The UK would have had to regain all her Imperial Empire or become confined to the history books.

September 22, 2013 2:50 am

260 times more powerful bomb. Just imagine the dangers of which our world is exposed.

September 22, 2013 8:23 am

This is an old news. Dawn should lead in investigating news reporting and not plagiarize, or presstv.

You guys need better reporters who can break the news before others.

Naqash Bukhari
September 22, 2013 11:12 am

Irresponsible ol'USA!

September 22, 2013 11:35 am

that "mistake" would have been so fatal that human races would get scared for ages to think of bombs on this land. who would get the blame for this mistake, God forbidden, how many innocents were at stake.

September 22, 2013 12:10 pm

All hell would've broken loose. It's quite possible that the US govt. would've blamed the soviets initially & by the time someone came up with the truth it might've gotten too late & of course they would've been hushed up too. WW3 avoided by the skin of our teeth maybe.

September 22, 2013 1:42 pm

they would have gotten a piece of their own medicine.

September 22, 2013 2:21 pm

@Waqqas: Only if you know what AFP is :)

September 22, 2013 2:27 pm

@Waqqas: Plagiarism is when you publish someone else work under your name.

Rizwan Masood
September 22, 2013 6:26 pm

I wish it had detonated. It would have knocked some sense in the White House and the Pentagon. Today these two have made most of the Islamic countries their battleground. With their double standards America is no wonder despised across the globe.

Gazoo Martian
September 22, 2013 10:36 pm

@Idealist: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Reuters and AFP are the two largest news agencies, monopolizing the world news.

Roxana R
September 23, 2013 4:59 am

Why is an event from 1961 news now?

Vineet Bahl
September 23, 2013 5:47 am

Old and Wrong News. It fell over a house. Nuke do not get detonated by fall. It fell at a house in Carolina. A family of five lived there but no one was hurt, they we paid a compensation as well.

It happens as Pilot found something funny was happening and he tried to reach the back to check something and accidentally pressed the button. to release the bomb.

Bomb carried no nuclear fuel in it at that time.

Source: Ask any idiot who has a bachelors degree in Aeronautical Engineering. Operational safety.

Shahbaz Shahid
September 23, 2013 4:38 pm

Thank God Pakistan was not atomic power at that time; otherwise the blame would be on Pakistan.

It was only the USA that used atomic bombs in war against Japan in World War 2. And now it is again USA that could not be able to secure its own atomic bombs. So, the USA has to see itself being the biggest threat to the rest of the World.

Yasir Ahmed
September 23, 2013 10:48 pm

I had report on it in which America did that due to the extra pressure by US Govt.

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