COPENHAGEN, Nov 12: Greenland confirmed on Wednesday a BBC report that claimed the United States abandoned a nuclear weapon under the ice in the Danish protectorate following a plane crash in 1968.

Foreign Affairs Minister Per Berthlesen said that Greenland had been aware of the issue for some time.

“There is nothing new in this report and we knew for some time that one of the four nuclear bombs had not been found following a search by the Americans,” he said, adding that there had been “no risk” to the environment.

Berthlesen said the authorities in Greenland were expecting a response from the US and Danish governments following the BBC documentary.

In a statement, Greenland pointed out that the incident had already been investigated by a public inquiry in 1995.

The BBC reported on Tuesday, based on declassified documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act, that the US failed to recover the nuclear weapon despite a number of searches.

Built in the early 1950s, Thule air base was of great strategic importance to the United States in its Cold War standoff with the Soviet Union, allowing a radar to scan the skies for missiles coming over the North Pole.

But Washington feared the Russians might destroy it as a prelude to a nuclear strike against the United States.

As a result the US military deployed nuclear-armed B52 bombers to circle over the base from 1960, so they could head straight to Moscow if it was destroyed, the British broadcaster reported.

However, on Jan 21, 1968, one of these planes crashed into the ice a few miles from the base. The explosives surrounding the four nuclear weapons on board detonated, but the active nuclear devices did not, the BBC said.—AFP

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