Nuclear weapon missing since 1950 ‘may have been found’

Source: BBC

A commercial diver may have discovered a lost decommissioned US nuclear bomb off the coast of Canada.

Sean Smyrichinsky was diving for sea cucumbers near British Columbia when he discovered a large metal device that looked a bit like a flying saucer.

The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) believes it could be a “lost nuke” from a US B-36 bomber that crashed in the area in 1950.

The government does not believe the bomb contains active nuclear material.

It is sending naval ships out to the site, near the Haida Gwaii archipelago, to verify the find.

'Lost nuke' bomb replicaImage copyrightROYAL AVIATION MUSEUM OF WESTERN CANADA
Image caption‘Lost nuke’ bomb replica

Mr Smyrichinsky says he came upon the device while diving off the coast of Pitt Island near Haida Gwaii in early October, which is near the Alaskan border with British Columbia. It was “bigger than a king-size bed”, perfectly flat on top with a rounded bottom and had a hole in the centre just “like a bagel,” he told the BBC.

“I found something really weird, I think it’s a UFO,” he joked with his fellow divers once he came to shore. The area is remote, and Mr Smyrichinsky says he had to wait a few days before he could go into town and find somebody who might know what it is.

One of his friends, an “old-timer” from the area, had an idea: “Maybe you found that nuke they lost here in the 50s!”


Background – by Gordon Corera, BBC security correspondent

It may sound like something from a thriller movie but accidents did mean that nuclear weapons sometimes were lost in the Cold War and it has often taken years for the full story to emerge.

I visited North Greenland a few years ago to look into a 1968 crash in which a US bomber approaching the Thule military base crashed. Parts of a nuclear weapon sank beneath the ice.

Special submarines found some of the parts but not everything could be recovered.

Two years before that another B-52 bomber crashed in Palomares in Spain.

In that case three weapons were found on the ground but a fourth was only located after more than two months of searching the sea.

The level of secrecy around nuclear weapons during the Cold War meant that often the full details of what had happened were classified – partly to avoid giving away secrets of weapons design but also because of fears of how local people might respond.

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