restricted access A Fusion Bomb over Andalucia: U.S. Information Policy and the 1966 Palomares Incident
Abstract

The fiery mid-air collision of two U.S. Air Force planes in January 1966 caused a payload of hydrogen bombs to fall on the countryside near the village of Palomares in the southern Spanish region of Andalucía. Although no nuclear explosions resulted, the incident scattered small amounts of radioactive material. A more serious problem, however, was the loss of one of the hydrogen bombs in the nearby waters of the Mediterranean Sea. During the prolonged period in which U.S. military teams worked to recover the missing bomb, government officials hastily cobbled together an information policy to deal with members of the press. Their efforts were almost not enough to quell rising concerns in Spain and in other European countries. The Palomares incident is an excellent historical illustration of the need for a versatile information policy that can be organized and set into action almost immediately after a sensitive military incident.


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