WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, the US National Archives unveiled a detailed list of potential targets for atomic bombers in the event of war with the Soviet Union in the 1950s, which included a separate category designated “Population.” The National Security Archive obtained the target list in response to their request first made in 2006.
“There are probably unknown unknowns out there, much information from the Cold War era remains to be declassified in US archives, as well as in Russia's,” Burr stated in an interview on Wednesday.
Burr said he assessed the document as the most detailed target list that the US Air Force had ever made public.
Burr added that the dangers of escalation to nuclear exchange were not as high in the 1950s as in the following decade, but they could not be discounted.
“Compared to 1962 [the year of the Cuban Missile crisis], the dangers were lower, there were crises in East Asia, but not as serious as some years later. There was always the risk of an accidental war.”
Thanks to the newly revealed document, “there will be better understanding of how SAC [US Strategic Air Command] planners thought about the use of nuclear weapons in conflict, how they thought they should be used and against what kind of targets,” he observed.
It remains unclear whether US President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his secretaries of defense and state were fully aware of the scope and details of the USAF’s nuclear targeting programs, Burr pointed out.
“It's hard to know, probably not, but more needs to be learned on this point,” he cautioned.
Burr predicted that there would probably be “other surprises and revelations” in more official US documents from the period on the subject that are yet to be declassified.