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Monday, 14 August, 2000, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Denmark rejects Greenland nuke report
The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber (US Air Force Photo)
The Danish Government has rejected newspaper reports that an unexploded US nuclear bomb could have been lying on the seabed near Greenland since a bomber crashed there 32 years ago.

Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen said the assertions were "nothing new" and that the accident, near a US air base at Thule, had been successfully cleared up at the time.

"The determining factor in this connection is that a responsible clean-up job was done after the accident," he said in a statement.

However, politicians from a range of opposition parties have called on the government to press Washington for full information.

Serial number

The foreign minister's statement was released after the Danish daily Jyllands Posten reported that only three of four nuclear bombs carried by the US Air Force B-52 bomber were retrieved.

I think [the government] should try to ask the US if there is anything in this story

Jens Hald Madsen, Liberal Party spokesman
It cited classified documents allegedly obtained by former employees at the air base.

The fourth bomb, identified by the serial number 78252, was probably still lying on the seabed near Thule, the newspaper said.

However, Mr Petersen's statement said: "No new information has appeared to change any evaluations made earlier."

He added that the same claims about a fourth bomb that was never found were examined by parliament in 1987.

Foreign Minister Petersen
Petersen: Accident was cleaned up
Underwater footage filmed by a US submarine crew was reviewed by Danish legislators and military experts to their satisfaction, the statement said.

A spokesman for the right-of-centre Liberal Party, Jens Hald Madsen, said Mr Petersen's response was "strange", and that if documents showed a fourth bomb remained in Greenland's waters the Danish Government ought to seek access to them.

"I think they should try to ask the US if there is anything in this story," he said.

"They should ask questions and then bring the information to the parliamentary committees on political and foreign affairs."

Missile defence plan

An American report issued in mid-1968 after the investigation stated that all the weapons aboard the crashed bomber had been accounted for.

The case could fuel controversy in Denmark over US plans to upgrade an early-warning radar station at Thule if a decision is made in Washington to build a national missile defence system.

The US has not formally requested to use the site, but officials are reported to have been discussing the issue with the Danish Government.

Senior representatives of the US State Department are expected to discuss the issue on a visit to Denmark in a week's time.

Though largely autonomous, Greenland remains a protectorate of Denmark, which manages all foreign policy issues affecting the island.

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See also:

13 Aug 00 | Americas
Nuclear bomb 'lost near Greenland'
02 Aug 00 | UK Politics
Caution urged on US defence plan
30 Mar 00 | Americas
Q & A: Son of Star Wars
02 May 00 | World
The world's nuclear arsenal
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