Spain and US sign deal over 1966 nuclear incident in Palomares

Announcement is made during State Secretary John Kerry’s two-day visit to Madrid

US State Secretary John Kerry arrives in Madrid for a two-day visit.Photo: atlas

Spain and the United States on Monday announced a long-awaited deal paving the way for Washington to clean up contaminated soil in Palomares (Almería), the site of a 1966 air crash that dropped four nuclear bombs in the area.

The announcement was made during US State Secretary John Kerry’s two-day official visit to Spain, which began on Sunday.

Asked by García-Margallo whether he would like to sing, Kerry laughed and responded with a “no”

Under the terms of the deal, which EL PAÍS reported on last week, Madrid and Washington “have the intention to negotiate a binding agreement” to clean up Palomares and store the contaminated soil at appropriate facilities in the United States.

A January report by the US Energy Department had mentioned a storage site in Nevada as a potential destination for the Palomares soil, but warned that the plan was still at “an early consideration stage.”

Kerry landed in Madrid on Sunday and met with Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo to review bilateral relations and discuss international politics.

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At the meeting, the US official was presented with a Spanish guitar. “This is a beautiful present,” said Kerry. Asked by García-Margallo whether he would like to sing, Kerry laughed and responded with a “no.”

For his part, Kerry gave García-Margallo a clock that he described as a “special piece” that “few people in the world” have ever been in possession of, one of these people being the late US president John F. Kennedy.

The meeting served to underscore the “excellent” state of US-Spain relations, said García-Margallo in statements to the news agency Efe. The Spanish minister also highlighted the recent deal over the US military base in Morón, and the Spanish monarchs’ recent trip to Washington DC.

Kerry’s agenda also includes meetings with King Felipe VI and with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The head of US diplomacy had been planning to come to Spain on May 31, but a biking accident just hours earlier in Switzerland forced him to postpone the visit.

English version by Susana Urra

The Palomares crash

El Pais

In 1966, a US B-52 bomber crashed in midair with a refueling plane, dropping four nuclear bombs near the site. One was found in the Mediterranean Sea, the other three on land. Two of them released radioactive material over two square kilometers of land.

For decades, the US had refused to take away the contaminated soil for fear of setting a precedent for claims by other countries.

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