The Defense Department is denying a suggestion in an upcoming TV report that real nuclear weapons were part of a military exercise.
Officials responded to advance reports of a broadcast on the ABC News program 20-20 that a military exercise in 1991 involving a simulated terrorist raid had included nuclear weapons. The report was scheduled for broadcast Friday night."We do not use real nuclear weapons in those kinds of scenarios," Pentagon spokesman Dennis Boxx said Thursday. "The security of nuclear weapons is paramount."
The report concerns a secret military war game called Operation Midnight Trail at a military base on the Pacific island of Guam. One scenario in the war game involved a terrorist attack aimed at capturing nuclear weapons on an Air Force C-130 transport plane.
An Air Force servicewoman, Airman Laurie Lucas, 19, was severely injured and days later died of her wounds when a "stun" grenade exploded near her. Game participants were supposed to be using harmless smoke bombs. The Marine lance corporal who threw the grenade was court martialed and acquitted of negligent homicide and other charges.
The broadcast cites "strong, believable indications" that nuclear weapons were used in the exercise and suggests that, had the grenade set off a nearby fuel tank, a nuclear accident could have occurred. A transcript of the report was made available by ABC.
ABC anchor Tom Jarriel notes in the report the Pentagon's denial that real nuclear weapons were used.