TIME Military

You Won’t Believe How Close North Carolina Came to Total Nuclear Annihilation

America averts disaster "by the slightest margin of chance"

The specter of nuclear annihilation has haunted the world’s nightmares since America dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6 1945. But North Carolina almost lived that nightmare.

In a declassified report, the American government reveals that 2 nuclear bombs nearly went off in North Carolina in January 1961. The two bombs were accidentally dropped on home soil by an American B-52 that broke apart near the city of Goldsboro.

As the bombs hit the ground, one of them armed and the only thing separating North Carolina from an 8-mile crater—according to then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara—was “literally the failure of two wires to cross.”

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