A detailed Cold War-era list of cities and 'populations' targeted by the United States' Strategic Air Command (SAC) in the late 1950's has been released.
The US National Archives and Record Administration has for the first time revealed the destinations Atomic bombers would have been authorised to hit in the event of war with the Soviet Union.
The comprehensive nuclear target list offers frightening insight into the systematic destruction the U.S. aimed to inflict onto various cities across Europe, the USSR and China.
Key Targets for SAC Forces (Interactive map, click on targets to see more information)
Destroying military infrastructure including airfields and/or industry make up some of the more predictable targets, but the plan to attack civilian "populations" en-masse gives substance to the notion of Mutually Assured Destruction in the event of war.
“It’s disturbing, for sure, to see the population centers targeted,” said William Burr, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive
Mr. Burr, a specialist in nuclear history, believes the release was the most detailed target list the U.S. Air Force had ever made public, but is waiting on yet more detail to emerge about specific mission objectives.
The regions outlined in the document are vague and shown only generally, with code numbers that correspond to specific locations. The precise location and addresses of facilities from that period are in a still-classified “Bombing Encyclopedia,” which Mr. Burr said he was trying to get declassified.
The 800-page document released recently and marked “Top Secret” also revealed that the SAC believed the development and use of a 60-megaton bomb (four thousand times larger than the Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima) was necessary in the event of war with the Soviet Bloc.
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