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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, holding a summit to urge world leaders to secure their nuclear material, frequently calls the risk of terrorists getting a nuke “the single biggest threat to U.S. security.” What he is less likely to talk about is the United States’ own shortcomings in safeguarding its nuclear stockpile.
In one of the U.S. government’s most alarming and embarrassing incidents, nuclear cruise missiles were mistakenly loaded onto a B-52 bomber in 2007 and flown from North Dakota to a military base in Louisiana. That gaffe occurred during President George W. Bush’s tenure.
Attracting less attention, several reviews since Obama became president have found weaknesses in the government’s stewardship of its nuclear cache, from weapons to the ingredients and classified information that go into them. Among the findings:
• The Air Force in January removed an entire squadron overseeing a bunker of nuclear warheads at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., citing a failed inspection that it blamed on administrative problems.
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