Denmark FOIA Documents

Nuclear Strategy Project: Denmark FOIA Documents

This page contains links to declassified documents about U.S.-Danish nuclear issues obtained by the Nuclear Strategy Project under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other sources. Check back often; this page is updated frequently as additional information becomes available.

For more on using the Freedom of Information Act, please visit the FOIA websites of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, or the Department of Justice. Also visit the on-line military FOIA research guide at Natural Resources Defense Council, and the National Security Archive.

NOTE: Some of the links connect to PDF documents which can only be opened with the Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don’t have this program, download it here for free.


Secrecy On A Sliding Scale: U.S. Nuclear Weapons Deployments And Danish Non-Nuclear Policy

Significant portions of the report History of Custody and Deployment of Nuclear Weapons: July 1945 through September 1977, that was recently released by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) under the Freedom of Information Act, were deleted to protect classified information. One of the locations deleted is Greenland. Yet so much information has been declassified during the last five years about the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Greenland that that deletions carried out by the OSD seem pointless. Nautilus Associate Hans M. Kristensen writes about Secrecy on a Sliding Scale.


United States Informs Denmark Of Nuclear Weapons In Greenland

In July 1995, shortly after Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen stated that the United States had never deployed nuclear weapons in Greenland, the U.S. government informed Denmark that it had in fact deployed nuclear weapons at Thule Air Base between 1958 and 1965. Danish nuclear policy, first stated in 1957, prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons within its borders. The incident occurred shortly after declassified U.S. documents had revealed that U.S. bombers routinely overflew Greenland in the 1960s with nuclear weapons.


U.S. State Department “Assures” Denmark Of No Nuclear Weapons In Greenland

Following the crash of a nuclear-armed B-52 bombers off Thule Air Base in Greenland in January 1968, and subsequent negotiations between the U.S. and Danish governments, the U.S. State Department assured Denmark that it will not store nuclear weapons in Greenland or overfly Greenland without the consent of the Danish government.


Following Bomber Crash, U.S. Copenhagen Embassy Urges State Department To Lie About Flight Route
Description | pdf format

Shortly after the crash of a nuclear-armed B-52 bomber on the ice off Thule Air Base in Greenland in 1968, Danish media began to speculate that the aircraft had operated in Greenland airspace prior to the accident. Danish policy prohibited nuclear weapons on Danish territory (including Greenland). In a telegram addressed to the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark urged that briefings about the accident avoid saying that the bomber was on a routine flight to Thule but was “diverted” due to an emergency.


World-Wide Deployment Of Strategic Air Command Nuclear Weapons, 1958

By mid-1958, the U.S. Strategic Air Command stored nuclear weapons at 41 locations around the world. Twenty-seven of these locations, or two-thirds, were in the Continental United States and Guam. The other 14 were located overseas in six countries, including Canada, Greenland, Morocco, Okinawa, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Two types of nuclear weapons were deployed at Thule Air Base in Greenland: the Mk-6 and the Mk-36 Mod 1.


U.S. Secretary of State Thanks Danish Prime Minister “Helpful Arrangements” In Greenland

During the NATO Summit in Paris in December 1957, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles thanked Danish Prime Minister H. C. Hansen for the “helpful arrangements” for U.S. forces in Greenland. Only one month earlier, U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Val Peterson had asked Hansen if Denmark wanted to be informed if the United States shold decide to deploy nuclear weapons in Greenland. Hansen’s refrained from commenting of the U.S. understanding of its military rights in Greenland, a dubious response that was interpreted by the United States as a go-ahead for nuclear deployment (see item below).


Danish Prime Minister Gives Tacit Go-Ahead For U.S. Nuclear Weapons In Greenland

A few months after the Danish government had first annoounced its decision not to accept nuclear weapons on Danish territory, U.S. Ambassdor Val Peterson visited Danish Prime Minister H. C. Hansen. During the meeting, the Ambassador avoided asking directly whether Denmark wanted to be informed if the U.S. should decide to deploy nuclear weapons in Greenland. Spared the situation of having to reject such a request directly, Hansen later sent the Ambassador an informal message in which he observed that Peterson had not asked and added that he therefore had no further comments. This message was interpreted by the U.S. government as a go-ahead. One year later, nuclear weapons were deployed at Thule Air Base.

Research for documents relating to this project was supported by grants from the Danish Institute of International Affairs and the Ploughshares Fund.