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Was a Covert Attempt to Bomb Iran with Nuclear Weapons foiled by a Military Leak?

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Introduction: The B-52 Incident

On August 30, a B-52 bomber armed with five nuclear-tipped Advanced Cruise missiles traveled from Minot Air Force base, North Dakota, to Barksdale Air Force base, Louisiana. Each missile had an adjustable yield between five and 150 kilotons of TNT which is at the lower end of the destructive capacities of U.S. nuclear weapons. For example, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima had a yield of 13 kilotons, while the Bravo Hydrogen bomb test of 1954 had a yield of 15,000 kilotons. The B-52 story was first covered in the Army Times on September 5 after the nuclear armed aircraft was discovered by Airmen (see: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/09/marine_nuclear_B52_070904w/ ). What made this a very significant event was that it was a violation of U.S. Air Force regulations concerning the transportation of nuclear weapons by air. Nuclear weapons are normally transported by air in specially constructed planes designed to prevent radioactive pollution in case of a crash. Such transport planes are not equipped to launch the nuclear weapons they routinely carry around the U.S. and the world for servicing or positioning.

The discovery of the nuclear armed B-52 was, according to Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of American Scientists, the first time in 40 years that a nuclear armed plane had been allowed to fly in the U.S (see: http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2007_9_5.html#149D6ECF ). Since 1968, after a SAC bomber crashed in Greenland, all nuclear armed aircraft have been grounded but were kept on a constant state of alert. After the end of the Cold War, President George H. Bush ordered in 1991 that nuclear weapons were to be removed from all aircraft and stored in nearby facilities.

Recently, the Air Force began decommissioning its stockpile of Advanced Cruise missiles. The five nuclear weapons on the B-52 were to be decommissioned, and were to be taken to another Air Force base. An Air Force press statement issued on September 6 claimed that there “was an error which occurred during a regularly scheduled transfer of weapons between two bases.” Furthermore, the statement declared: “The Air Force maintains the highest standards of safety and precision so any deviation from these well established munitions procedures is considered very serious.” The issue concerning how a nuclear armed B-52 bomber was allowed to take off and fly in U.S. air space after an ‘error’ in a routine transfer process, is now subject to an official Air Force inquiry which is due to be completed by September 14.

Three key questions emerge over the B-52 incident. First, why did Air Force personnel at Minot AFB not spot the ‘error’ earlier given the elaborate security procedures in place to prevent such mistakes from occurring? Many military analysts have commented on the stringent security procedures in place to prevent this sort of mistake from occurring. Multiple officers are routinely involved in the transportation and loading of nuclear weapons to prevent the kind of ‘error’ that allegedly occurred in the B-52 incident. According to the Air Force statement, the commanding officer in charge of military munitions personnel and additional munitions airmen were relieved of duties pending the completion of the investigation. According to Kristensen, the error could not have come from confusing the Advanced Cruise Missile with a conventional weapons since no conventional form exists. So the munitions Airmen should have been easily able to spot the mistake. Other routine procedures were violated which suggests a rather obvious explanation for the error. The military munitions personnel were acting under direct orders, though not through the regular chain of military command. This takes me to the second question

Who was in Charge of the B-52 Incident?

Who ordered the loading of Advanced Cruise missiles on to a B-52 in violation of Air Force regulations? The quick reaction of the Air Force and the issuing of a public statement describing the seriousness of the issue and the launch of an immediate investigation, suggests that whatever occurred, was outside the regular chain of military command. If the regular chain of command was violated, then we have to inquire as to whether the B-52 incident was part of a covert project whose classification level exceeded that held by officers in charge of nuclear weapons at Minot AFB. The most obvious governmental entity that may have ordered the nuclear arming of the B-52 outside the regular chain of military command is the last remaining bastion of neo-conservative activism in the Bush administration.

Vice President Cheney has taken a very prominent role in covert military operations and training exercises designed for the “seamless integration” of different national security and military authorities to possible terrorist attacks. On May 8, 2001, President Bush placed Cheney in charge of "[A]ll federal programs dealing with weapons of mass destruction, consequence management within the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Justice, and Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies" (see: http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/011805_simplify_case.shtml) . Cheney subsequently played a direct role in supervising training exercises that simultaneously occurred during the 911 attacks.

According to former Los Angeles Police Officer Michael Ruppert, Cheney had a parallel chain of command that he used to override Air Force objections to stand down orders that grounded the USAF during the 911 attacks (see: http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/011805_simplify_case.shtml ). Ruppert learned that the Secret Service had the authority to directly communicate presidential and vice presidential orders to fighter pilots in the air thereby circumventing the normal chain of command. (Crossing the Rubicon, pp. 428 – 429). Furthermore: “It is the Secret Service who has the legal mandate to take supreme command in case of a scheduled major event - or an unplanned major emergency - on American soil; these are designated "National Special Security Events".” http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/011805_simplify_case.shtml .

Ruppert and others have subsequently claimed that 911 was an “inside job;” and Cheney through the Secret Service, played a direct leadership role in what occurred over 911. Consequently, it is very possible that Cheney played a similar role in circumventing the regular chain of military command in ordering the B-52 incident. It is likely that the B-52 incident was part of a contrived "National Special Security Event" directly controlled by Cheney by virtue of the authority granted to him by President Bush, and through the Secret Service which has the technological means to by pass the regular chain of military command. I now move to my third key question.

Why was the nuclear armed B-52 sent to Barksdale AFB?

If initial reports that the weapons were being decommissioned, but were mistakenly transported by a B-52 bomber, then the weapons should have been taken to Kirtland Air Force Base. According to Kristensen, this is “where the warheads are separated from the rest of the weapon and shipped to the Energy Department’s Pantex dismantlement facility near Amarillo, Texas” (see: http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2007_9_5.html#149D6ECF ). However, it has been revealed that Barksdale AFB is used as a staging base for operations in the Middle East (see: http://tpmcafe.com/blog/coffeehouse/2007/sep/05/staging_nuke_for_iran ). This is circumstantial evidence that the weapons were being deployed for possible use in the Middle East.

There has been recent speculation concerning a possible attack against Iran given reports that the Pentagon has completed plans for a three day bombing blitz of Iran according to a Sunday Times report (see: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article2369001.ece ). The Report claims that 1200 targets have been selected and this will destroy much of Iran’s military infrastructure. Such an attack will devastate Iran’s economy, create greater political instability in the region, and stop the oil supply. A disruption of the oil supply from the Persian Gulf could trigger a global economic recession and lead to the collapse of financial markets. In a synchronistic development, there have been reports of billion dollar investments in high risk stock options in both Europe and the U.S. that would only be profitable if a dramatic collapse of the stock market were to occur before September 21. Similar stock options were purchased weeks before the 911 attack in 2001, and investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible insider trading. The combination of the Sunday Times report and the Stock market option purchases is circumstantial evidence that plans for a concerted military attack against Iran have been secretly approved and covert operations have begun (see: http://exopolitics.org/Exo-Comment-57.htm ).

Seymour Hersh in May 2006 reported the opposition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the use of nuclear weapons against Iran.

In late April, the military leadership, headed by General Pace, achieved a major victory when the White House dropped its insistence that the plan for a bombing campaign include the possible use of a nuclear device to destroy Iran's uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran. …. "Bush and Cheney were dead serious about the nuclear planning," the former senior intelligence official told me. "And Pace stood up to them. Then the world came back: 'O.K., the nuclear option is politically unacceptable.' http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/07/10/060710fa_fact .

Given earlier opposition by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it is likely that the present attack plans for Iraq drawn up by the Pentagon don’t involve the use of nuclear weapons. In order to circumvent the regular chain of command, opposed to a nuclear attack, it is very likely that Vice President Cheney contrived a “National Special Security Event” that involved a nuclear armed B-52. This would have given him the legal authority to place orders directly through the Secret Service to the Air Force officers responsible for the B-52 incident.

Conclusion: Exposing those Responsible for the B-52 Incident

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Dr. Michael Salla is an internationally recognized scholar in international politics, conflict resolution, US foreign policy and the new field of 'exopolitics'. He is author/editor of five books; and held academic appointments in the School of (more...)

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could that, " ... August 30,  ... B-52 b... by elena dumas on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 5:51:47 AM
The stock options thing is almost more worrisome b... by John R Moffett on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 6:34:22 AM
Those billion dollar put option investments have m... by Dr Michael Salla on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 9:29:46 AM
If some big wigs in the markets have advance warni... by John R Moffett on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 10:05:13 AM
Hi John, there's more useful articles on the m... by Dr Michael Salla on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 12:03:15 PM
Michael, your article states it was 5 missiles tha... by jasper sneed on Sunday, Sep 9, 2007 at 9:55:49 PM
You are absolutely right about this.  BUYING ... by Charlie L on Friday, Sep 14, 2007 at 11:43:50 AM
First of all, from a personal perspective as a for... by Steven Leser on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 12:25:19 PM
With the state of tension in the world today, why ... by Jimmy Porter on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 1:43:17 PM
Many of my responses will be best guesses, let me&... by Steven Leser on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 2:35:17 PM
I'd like your take on it. What about all of th... by richard on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 2:45:41 PM
It's not that I doubt you, I have heard that b... by Steven Leser on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 3:00:41 PM
After all the mistakes of Cheney, why would any on... by cluelessfl on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 1:07:51 PM
If this article is the tip of the ice berg, I am a... by Jimmy Porter on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 1:12:38 PM
Now I wish I had paid attention more closely. For ... by Guajolotl on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 4:13:07 PM
Our nuclear warfighting elite are hard at work try... by Patrick on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 4:51:50 PM
I am totally blown away by this and relieved that ... by Philip Madlem on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 8:57:01 PM
Going back to the start of the Bush administration... by vincent passiatore on Saturday, Sep 8, 2007 at 10:37:43 PM
Hi:The addition of the Citizen Amendments to the U... by Anton Grambihler on Sunday, Sep 9, 2007 at 2:09:05 AM
In Canada, we require a min. of 10 signatures in v... by The Pundit on Sunday, Sep 9, 2007 at 10:42:08 AM
Here is another article from a former Army militar... by Bleeding Heart Liberal on Sunday, Sep 9, 2007 at 10:50:21 AM
no former military person can understand this. It ... by Steven Leser on Sunday, Sep 9, 2007 at 11:37:41 AM
I think it is even worse than what you said.My rea... by Bleeding Heart Liberal on Sunday, Sep 9, 2007 at 12:03:48 PM
"I'm not sure (in the context of what the... by Charlie L on Friday, Sep 14, 2007 at 11:57:13 AM
The predecessors: (Nothing like this has ever happ... by The Pundit on Sunday, Sep 9, 2007 at 3:41:39 PM
There are a lot of nonsensical aspects to this sto... by Dutchmajician on Sunday, Sep 9, 2007 at 11:11:23 PM
Because my name appears several places in Mr. Sall... by Hans Kristensen on Thursday, Sep 13, 2007 at 3:41:17 PM
Now, I know that regimented systems can be subvert... by Charlie L on Friday, Sep 14, 2007 at 12:36:03 PM
Since the story broke 7 days ago, about the missin... by The Pundit on Sunday, Sep 16, 2007 at 12:04:18 PM