Air Force Investigates Alleged Nuke Transfer, Pentagon Spokesman Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 6, 2007 The Pentagon is awaiting results of an Air Force investigation into the alleged improper transfer of weapons by air from a base in North Dakota to a Louisiana military installation last week. (Video)
News reports say several nuclear-tipped cruise missiles were mistakenly attached to the wing of a B-52 bomber, which then flew for more than three hours across several states. Media reports state the aircrew did not know nuclear weapons were aboard.
“The Air Force is currently investigating an error made last Thursday in the transfer of munitions … from Minot Air Force Base to Barksdale Air Force Base aboard a B-52 Stratofortress,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters at a news conference here yesterday.
However, citing long-standing Defense Department policy, Morrell did not confirm nuclear weapons were involved in the incident.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates “was quickly informed” of the Aug. 30 incident, Morrell said. He added that Gates has been getting daily briefings from senior Air Force leaders on the progress of the investigation.
The incident was of sufficient importance “that President Bush was notified of it,” Morrell said.
Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the Air Force’s chief of staff, has assured Gates that the munitions in question were under proper supervision at all times and that “at no time was the public in danger,” Morrell reported.
He said he wasn’t aware if any disciplinary action was taken against Air Force personnel as a result of the incident.
The Air Force’s investigative report of the incident should be delivered to Gates “by the end of next week,” Morrell said.