Secrets Revealed: America Almost Stockpiled Nuclear Weapons In Iceland
Key point: We still don’t officially know which nations had U.S. nuclear weapons on their soil.
If Miss Manners were a diplomat, she would tell us how rude it is to place nuclear bombs in the territory of our allies without being invited to.
But it turns out that in the 1950s, the United States considered deploying nuclear weapons in Iceland without telling the Icelanders, according to declassified documents published by the watchdog organization National Security Archive.
“At the end of the 1950s the U.S. Navy ordered the construction of a facility for storing nuclear depth bombs, an Advanced Underseas Weapons (AUW) Shop at the outskirts of Keflavik airport,” the National Security Archive wrote. “The AUW facility was built by local Icelandic workers who thought its purpose was to store torpedoes.”
There was logic to this. Located between the British Isles to the south and Greenland to the north, Iceland was a perfect choke point to block Soviet submarines headed for the North Atlantic convoy routes connecting the United States to Europe. In the late 1950s and the 1960s, atomic weapons such as the U.S. Navy ASROC rocket-launched nuclear depth charge were widely deployed. U.S. ships and planes conducting antisubmarine, or ASW, missions out of Iceland could have used nuclear weapons stored there. How useful those nuclear ASW weapons would have been is debatable, but if they were going to be used for sub hunting, then they would need to be stored at forward bases.
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