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US planned to drop bombs close to Austria

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File photo: United States Air Force Historical Research Agency - Maxwell AFB, Alabama
12:29 CET+01:00
Recently-declassified nuclear targeting documents from 1959 describe how Washington planned to destroy cities in Eastern and Central Europe, including Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, and a former Soviet air base on the border with Austria.

The documents, part of a report titled “SAC (Strategic Air Command) Atomic Weapons Requirements Study for 1959”, cast doubt on Washington's Cold War commitment to protect what it referred to as the Soviet bloc's “captive nations” in Europe.

Budapest would have been completely destroyed if, as planned, the US hit the Tokol military airfield on the banks of the Danube River with one of its nuclear weapons. The blast would have made the Danube radioactive and anyone exposed to its waters would have suffered an agonizing death from radiation sickness.

Hegyeshalom, on the border between Austria, Slovakia and Hungary, would have been obliterated under the plan as it was the location for a Soviet military airbase. A nuclear bomb dropped here would have wiped out the communities of Neusiedl, Parndorf, Frauenkirchen, and Gols.

In total, 77 nuclear bombs were trained on a number of targets close to neutral Austria's borders - which if detonated would have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Austrians.

The US Air Force study called for the “systematic destruction” of major cities such as Warsaw, East Berlin, Prague, Bucharest, Tallinn, as well as cities in Russia and North Korea.

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The plan would have enabled US Forces to destroy the Soviet Union and its allies in the shortest possible time, in the event of an East-West conflict.

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