by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, September 27, 2007
Note: Readers are welcome to cross-post this article with a view to spreading the word and warning people of the dangers of a broader Middle East war. Please indicate the source and copyright note.
In late August, reported by the Military Times, a US Air Force B-52 bomber flew from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana with six AGM advanced cruise missiles, each of which was armed with a W-80-1 nuclear warhead. “… Missiles were mounted on the pylons under its wings. Each of the warheads carried a yield of up to 150 kilotons, more than ten times as powerful as the US bomb that leveled Hiroshima at the close of the Second World War.” (See Bill Van Auken, Global Research September 2007)
The Military Times byline was “B-52 mistakenly flies with nukes aboard”. The issue was casually acknowledged by The Washington Post and the New York Times. The reports quoted a US Air force spokesman. The matter was offhandedly brushed aside. The incident represented “an isolated mistake” and that “at no time was there a threat to public safety.” (Ibid) :
“As far as is known, the incident marked the first time that a US plane has taken off armed with nuclear weapons in nearly 40 years. …
… The transport of weapons from one base to another, however, is normally carried out in the holds of C-17 and C-130 cargo planes, not fixed to the wings of combat bombers.
Someone had to give the order to mount the missiles on the plane. The question is whether it was a local Air Force commander—either by mistake or deliberately—or whether the order came from higher up.
B-52s from Barksdale have been used repeatedly to strike targets in Iraq, firing cruise missiles at Iraqi targets in 1996 and 1998, and in the “shock and awe” campaign that preceded the 2003 invasion, carrying out some 150 bombing runs that devastated much of the southern half of the country.
Moreover, the weapon that was fixed to the wings of the B-52 flying from Minot air base was designed for use against hardened targets, such as underground bunkers.
Given the ratcheting up of the threats against Iran and the previous reports of plans for the use of “tactical” nuclear weapons against Iranian nuclear installations, there is a very real possibility that the flight to Barksdale was part of covert preparations for a nuclear strike against Iran.
If this is indeed the case, the claims about a “mistake” by a munitions officer and a few airmen in North Dakota may well be merely a cover story aimed at concealing the fact that the government in Washington is preparing a criminal act of world historic proportions by ordering—without provocation—the first use of nuclear weapons since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki more than sixty years ago. (Bill van Auken, op. cit).
In recent developments, Wayne Madsen (September 27) has suggested, based on US and foreign intelligence sources, that the B-52 carrying the advanced cruise missiles with bunker buster nuclear warheads was in fact destined for the Middle East.
Is the B-52 Barksdale incident in any way related to US plans to use nuclear weapons against Iran?
Madsen suggests, in this regard, that the operation of shipping the nuclear warheads was aborted “due to internal opposition within the Air Force and U.S. Intelligence Community”, which was opposed to a planned US attack on Iran using nuclear warheads.
Without downplaying the significance of the Barksdale incident, if Washington were to decide to use nuclear weapons against Iran, they could be launched at short notice from a number of military bases in Western Europe and the Middle East, from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, from a submarine or from a US Aircraft carrier. Turkey has some 90 B61 nuclear weapons which are fully deployed. (See details below). It should be noted that, with regard to the Barksdale incident, the 150 kt. W-80-1 nuclear warheads mounted on the B-52s are not the type of nuclear weapon contemplated by the US military for use in the Middle East conventional war theater.
To grasp the seriousness of the “Barksdale incident”, it is important to understand the broader context of nuclear weapons deployment respectively by the US, NATO and Israel.
We are not dealing with a single aborted operation of deployment of nuclear weapons to the Middle East.
There are indications that a large number of US made nuclear weapons are currently deployed in Western Europe and the Middle East including Israel.
Coordinated Military Operation
We are dealing with a coordinated military operation in which US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) plays a central role. The main coalition partners are the US, NATO and Israel.
There are four interrelated “building blocks” pertaining to the preemptive use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater: read more