AUTHORStiles, David
TITLEA Fusion Bomb Over Andalucía: U.S. Information Policy and the 1966 Palomares Incident
PERIODICAL TITLEJournal of Cold War Studies
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In this article, the author evaluates the U.S. government’s handling of the 1966 Palomares nuclear accident in Andalucía, Spain in order to stress the importance of an adequate information management policy. The incident involved the collision of two U.S. planes that resulted in the deaths of several crew members, radioactive contamination, and a public relations debacle that went on for months. The inept public handling of the situation made it obvious to the world that the U.S. was hiding details of the event. Organized into four parts, the article first puts the Palomares incident into the larger context of information policy and nuclear safety, then discusses the initial military policy executed in response to the incident, describes how the information policy evolved during the weeks that followed, and finally assesses the outcome and policy lessons to be drawn from the case. The author questions why U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson did not take a more active role in the incident. He cites the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, Angier Duke, as a figure who effectively managed the press by revealing details of the event, thus smoothing over relations between the two countries. The article underscores the need for an immediate, versatile information policy in cases of sensitive military incidents.

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