The United States abandoned a nuclear weapon under the ice in northern Greenland after it was lost following a plane crash in 1968, the BBC reported Monday.
Using testimony of those involved and declassified documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act, it said that despite a desperate search of the crash site near a US military base at Thule, the weapon was never found.
Built in the early 1950s, Thule Air Base was of great strategic importance to the United States in its Cold War stand-off with the Soviet Union, allowing a radar to scan the skies for missiles coming over the North Pole.
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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.
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However, on January 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.