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Source: Firings likely in transport of nuclear warheads across U.S.

  • Story Highlights
  • Air Force to recommend several service members be fired, source says
  • Others to face discipline, person close to investigation says
  • Report follows mistaken flight of nuclear warheads across country
  • Warheads were supposed to be removed from missiles, officials say
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From Barbara Starr
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Air Force will recommend the firing and disciplining of several service members involved in the mistaken flight of nuclear warheads across the country in August, according to a military official familiar with the investigation.

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A B-52 is seen on the ground at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, in this file photo.

The source did not want to be identified because not everyone involved has been informed.

The just-concluded investigation into the August 29 incident is expected to recommend the firing of at least five Air Force service personnel and disciplinary action against others for failure to follow safety and security procedures, according to the source.

Criminal charges also are being considered, the source said.

The squadron commander in charge of handling munitions at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota was relieved of duty soon after the incident.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to be briefed Friday morning, with the results of the investigation announced later in the day.

The investigation concluded that nuclear warheads were improperly handled and procedures were not followed when the weapons were loaded on a bomber and flown across the country from Minot to an air base in Louisiana.

The B-52 bomber carried six nuclear warheads on air-launched cruise missiles headed to Barksdale Air Force Base for decommissioning, but the warheads should have been removed from the missiles before they were attached to the B-52, military officials said.

The crew was unaware that the plane was carrying nuclear weapons. The mistake was discovered after the plane's arrival in Louisiana.

A military official told CNN last month there was no nuclear risk to public safety because the weapons were not armed.

Military officials also said the missiles could not have been launched because of multiple security procedures required to be enacted before any launch would have been authorized. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Nuclear WeaponsU.S. Air Force

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