Washington/Praha US troops have unknowingly leaked sensitive information about nuclear weapons stored in Europe. Secretly, security procedures and protocol details were publicly available through the mobile applications on which the soldiers used these data. The investigative server Bellingcat informed about the case.
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The presence of American nuclear weapons in Europe has never been confirmed or disproved by the governments of individual states. Officially, their place is secret, but in fact they deal with them a lot. In 2019, for example, a list of names was made public, including their exact location, which NATO inadvertently published. Let us know that the nearest atomic weapon, the concrete bomb B61, is stored in Bchel not far from Cologne. Dal are then in Belgium, the Netherlands, Turkey and Italy.
The soldiers of the American army are working on a total of six nuclear weapons. It’s not easy – you have to memorize security protocols when and all the details of a secure warehouse. Some wars therefore used popular applications such as Quizlet, Chegg or Cram. In these, the user can compile study sets of questions and answers and help them remember them. The problem is that the kits created are freely available to anyone on these applications, and can be easily traced if the hunter knows at least military terminology.
Like a jacket on a vetelka
As in Bellingcat, to find study lists it was enough to enter abbreviations such as PAS in the search (protective aircraft shelters – protective aviation hanger) or WS3 (Weapons Storage and Security Systems, a complex electronic system used for storing modified bombs B61).
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According to the newspaper, not only information about the bombs themselves was available in the kits (for example, in which warehouses are accurately stored), but also the number and location of security cameras, sensors and radar systems, or a detailed procedure in the event of a security system breach. The user was able to find out the secret passwords for the alarm or identifiers on the orders to enter the restricted brand. Some soldiers learned how to act in the country or what in the local language kiet on the incident.
The identity of the studying soldiers was not entirely complete. Some of them were logged here by their full name, or they had the same profile photo as on LinkedIn. All changes to the application can set the content so that it is not visible to other users.
Bellingcat states that it found at least 50 teaching sets, the oldest of which are from 2013. In some applications it was possible to see when and which set the soldier took – the last activity of the day took place at least in April 2021. Whether since then change passwords and protocol, not known. The study sets disappeared from the applications after the server apparently contacted the United States military and NATO.
The United States Air Force said in response that it is aware that soldiers are using online materials to study, and that it first examines the appropriateness of the information provided. We are continuously evaluating and reviewing security protocols to ensure the protection of sensitive information and operations, the Air Force said.
According to experts approached by Bellingcat, the information available so far represents a breach of security protocols. The case raised questions about the overall issue of stockpiling US nuclear weapons in Europe. Despite repeated information, these are still taken as written secrets, which, according to critics of Brno, about this darkness being discussed in society.
There is so much information that reveals the location of these weapons that, from a security point of view, it makes sense to keep it a secret. Of course, there are specific data that must remain secret. But there is no point in denying the presence of these weapons, said Hans Kristensen, just the Federation of American Scientists, which has long lobbied for the reduction of nuclear weapons. According to him, the secrecy only serves to prevent a public debate about whether the people of the countries in question want to store bombs in their country or not.