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Decipher the Iceworm project to store nuclear missiles in ice tunnels

Great efforts have been made to make it possible for nuclear weapons to be hidden closer to the target of attack without being detected…

Top Secret Project Iceworm

While the Soviet Union invested in building armored trains that could transport their massive intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) around Siberia, the United States was also looking for new ways to place nuclear weapons both at home and abroad. foreign. Iceworm is the code name of a top secret project under the name “Camp Century” of the US during the Cold War to deploy a mobile medium-range ICBM launcher network under the ice of Greenland (Denmark).

Decipher the Iceworm project to store nuclear missiles in ice tunnels - Photo 1.

The Iceworm military project hides scientific research in the Arctic; Source: strangesounds.org

Started in 1958, Project Iceworm aimed to build a 4,000-kilometer tunnel system in the Greenland ice sheet to deploy about 600 intercontinental ballistic missiles against targets on Soviet territory. The US military has built a series of tunnels under the ice, using steel structures to strengthen the bearing capacity and keep them in place.

Keeping it a secret from the Danish government, the US Department of Defense explains that Camp Century aims to test different construction techniques in Arctic conditions, examining real-world problems with a semi-mobile nuclear reactor. , as well as scientific support. The project was publicly announced, and even featured in Danish newspapers and The Saturday Evening Post magazine in 1960.

Located not far from the North Pole, the temperature around the Camp Century area (located at an altitude of 2,000 m) 240 km from the US military base Thule, is usually at -23 degrees Celsius, with sometimes as cold as -70 degrees. C; The average amount of snow accumulated in the area at that time was over 1 m per year, with gusts of 115 km/h. Therefore, it is impossible to build military facilities on the surface of the Northern Greenland ice sheet.

Beginning in 1959, using giant Swiss-made tillers, the US Army Corps of Engineers began digging tunnels beneath the northern Greenland ice sheet using a method known as “cut and fill.” . The US military has created effective tunnels under the steel dome and the ice, which can be used for offices, homes and even recreational activities…

The real purpose behind these operations is to establish a huge system of specially designed tunnels under the ice, capable of supporting the storage, transport and launch of nuclear ballistic missiles. By making use of tunnels under the ice for this purpose, the United States could launch nuclear weapons into the Soviet Union at the same time, while also periodically moving missiles so that the Soviet Union would be nearly impossible to defend or attack. correct missile placement.

To carry out the project, 21 tunnels with a total length of 4,000 m along with a hospital, a shop, a theater, a church and other facilities were created under the ice. The total number of employees involved in construction and living under the ice is about 200 people. From 1960 to 1963, power was provided through the first portable nuclear reactor “PM-2A” designed by Alco for the US Army; The water is taken directly from the glaciers and tested for plague germs.

Decipher the Iceworm project to store nuclear missiles in ice tunnels - Photo 2.

Project Iceworm aims to build a tunnel system to deploy about 600 intercontinental ballistic missiles in the Greenland ice sheet; Source: sth.bing.com

According to documents released by Denmark in 1997, the “Iceworm” missile network was outlined in a 1960 report titled “The Strategic Value of Greenland Icecap” by the US Army. If fully implemented, the project will cover an area of ​​​​130,000 square kilometers, nearly three times the size of Denmark, and about 11,000 military personnel. Thousands of tunnels will be created every year so that after 5 years there are thousands of firing positions, and possibly a rotation of several hundred missiles.

The launch complex layouts are 8.5 m below the surface, with the rocket launchers even deeper and the launch centers spaced 6.4 km apart. US officials plan to deploy a shortened two-stage version of the US Air Force’s Minuteman missile, a variant the Army calls the Iceman. This information is kept strictly confidential from the Danish government.

What the Danes didn’t know at the time was that since 1961, nuclear-armed B-52 bombers had continuously circled Thule Air Base. Not only that, about 50 nuclear weapons were also stored at the base from 1958 to 1965. The landing of a B-52 flying fortress filled with US nuclear weapons in Greenland in 1968 had bring everything to light!


Unexpectedly, three years after the project began, the ice melted, the tunnels cracked, shifted, slowly deformed over time, and were no longer safe to use. This widespread movement causes tunnels and trenches to narrow, as their walls deform and bulge, eventually leading to ceiling collapse. In mid-1962, the ceiling of the Camp Century operating room fell and had to be raised 1.5 m.

Decipher the Iceworm project to store nuclear missiles in ice tunnels - Photo 3.

Unexpectedly, Iceworm went bankrupt, leaving a number of environmental consequences; Source: wearethemighty.com

Following a plan to cool down the PM-2A reactor for maintenance in late July 1963, the US decided to operate Camp Century as a summer-only facility and not reactivate the reactor. The base resumed operations in 1964 using a backup diesel generator, the mobile reactor was dismantled that summer. The base was completely abandoned in 1966, sealed and hidden from the public.

Ice core samples taken by geologists working at Camp Century have shown that the glacier is moving much faster than expected and will destroy the tunnels and launch stations expected in about two years. This is clearly not a place for humans to live, let alone store nuclear weapons. Information about the project was revealed between 1995 and 1997, when the Danish Parliament authorized the Danish Foreign Policy Institute (DUPI) to study the history of the use of nuclear weapons in Greenland in connection with the use of nuclear weapons. in relation to the Thule Airbase crash scandal.

The project generated valuable scientific information and provided scientists with some of the first ice cores, scientific data still used by climatologists to this day. The frozen layer of ice allows scientists to study thousands of years of climate history. They were also able to go back in time by observing germs preserved in meltwater from glaciers.

The Iceworm’s infrastructure and waste has been abandoned and is intended to be permanently buried by the relentless snowfall. But a 2016 study found that, if current trends continue, the ice covering Camp Century will begin to melt by 2100. As the ice melts, biological and chemical waste (including 200,000 liters of diesel fuel) will be released. , chemicals) and remaining radioactive waste would re-enter the environment and potentially disrupt nearby ecosystems – a completely unintended consequence of the top secret Cold War project.

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