Revealed: How U.S. left nuclear warhead lying at bottom of ocean after B52 crash in 1968

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A U.S. nuclear warhead was abandoned under the ice in northern Greenland after a B52 bomber crashed in 1968, an investigation has found.

The Pentagon believed the former Soviet Union would destroy the base as a prelude to a nuclear strike against the U.S. and began flying nuclear-armed B52s continuously over Thule in 1960 in order to retaliate.

Thule Air Base has been a major strategic asset to the U.S. since it was built in the early 1950s, as it allowed a radar to scan the skies for missiles fired over the North Pole.

Greenland is a self-governing province of Denmark, but the carrying of nuclear weapons over Danish territory was kept secret, according to the BBC investigation.

On January 21, 1968, one of the missions went wrong and a bomber crashed into the ice a few miles from the air base.

Military personnel, Greenlanders and Danish workers rushed to the scene to help.

Over the next few months a massive operation took place to recover the debris of the aircraft and collect 500million gallons of ice, some of which contained radioactive wreckage from the bomber.

A declassified U.S. government video, obtained by the BBC, documents the clear-up and gives some ideas of the scale of the operation.

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