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Cold War Nuclear Target Lists Updated in Nuclear Vault Posting

April 4, 2016
Key Targets for SAC Forces.

Key Targets for SAC Forces.

A partial listing of targets in Budapest.

A partial listing of targets in Budapest.

Today the Nuclear Vault publishes an update of its widely read 22 December 2015 posting on the Strategic Air Command’s nuclear weapons requirements study for 1959.  A number of interested readers wrote to find out whether their city or locality is on the massive list of urban-industrial complexes that was part of the SAC study.  To help those and other readers, the Archive is publishing in its entirety the 306-page list included in part 1 of the study. The list in part 2 is essentially the same.  The only difference would be the numbers of nuclear weapons assigned to the targets but that information was completely exempted from both lists.

Heavily-targeted Eastern European cities revealed in the list include: Berlin; Bucharest; Budapest; Dresden; Leipzig; Riga; Sofia; Tallinn; Tbilisi; Vilnius; Warsaw; and Wrocław (Breslau).

As part of the update, the Nuclear Vault also includes some context for the SAC study. Further archival research has turned up documents and references in the records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which demonstrate that the SAC study was prepared in response to a specific request to unified and specified commands for information on their nuclear weapons requirements for 1959.  Thus, not only the SAC, but also the Pacific Command, the European Command, the Atlantic Command, and the Alaskan Command, among others, prepared weapons requirements studies.  But the specific request which went to the commands and the supporting rationale remain classified although under a pending declassification request.  For details, see the update
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