Nautilus Institute Digital Library
july 1995


United States Informs Denmark Of Nuclear Weapons In Greenland

  In July 1995, the U.S. government informed the Danish Foreign Minister that it had deployed nuclear weapons in Greenland between 1958 and 1965. Greenland was, as Danish territory, covered by Denmark's general ban against nuclear weapons within its borders, a position first stated in 1957.

The U.S. letter was handed over shortly after Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen in a public statement assured that the United States never had deployed nuclear weapons in Greenland. The U.S. letter was confidential, but given the contradiction with Mr. Petersen's assurance the Danish government decided to disclose some of its content nonetheless.

The full letter remains classified, but its content was disclosed by a source in the Danish government. The letter below is an unofficial English translation of the full text.


FOIA Documents

Presumably U.S. Department of Defense, "Regarding Nuclear Activities At Thule Air Base," [ca. July 1995].

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Full Text: [NOTE: unofficial translation]


[Ca. July 1995]

Regarding Nuclear Activities at Thule Air Base.

The following is the final account by the United States government on the matter of deployment of nuclear weapons in Greenland during the Cold War, as requested by the Danish Foreign Ministry.

A preliminary review of the relevant data concerning the period around the 1968 accident showed no sign that nuclear weapons had ever been stored there. In connection with a thorough investigation, going back almost 40 years, we have called in assistance from historians from all over the United States affiliated with the US Strategic Command, US Army, and the Defense Nuclear Agency. We have reviewed certain original documents dated back till 1958.

Our investigation determined that a smaller number of nuclear weapons were deployed at Thule Air Base in Greenland. The earliest date of deployment is February 1958. The first deployment consisted of four airborne weapons and 15 non-nuclear components. No special mission B-47 or B-52 aircraft were propositioned with the intention of being equipped with these weapons. Some eight months later the weapons were returned to the United States.

In December 1959, the United States again introduced nuclear weapons at Thule Air Base as part of an ongoing air defense mission. These air defense weapons (48) remained in place until the summer of 1965, when they were also returned to the United States as the Army canceled the air defense program at Thule.

After that time, the United States has not deployed nuclear weapons in Greenland.

This information is provided in fulfillment of Secretary Perry's promise to give the Danish government full information about the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Greenland. This is any case sensitive information since it and associated information involving other countries could seriously affect U.S. foreign relations. To this end we will continue to treat the information as confidential. If this information, or part of it, should be made public, the U.S. government will neither confirm nor deny its validity.

[signed by: unknown]


(Source: Presumably U.S. Department of Defense, "Regarding Nuclear Activities At Thule Air Base," [ca. July 1995].

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