Inert nuclear missile found in US man’s garage

An officer near the rusty rocket
Image caption,Markings are still visible on the inert AIR-2 Genie rocket

Police in Washington state say an old rusted rocket found in a local man’s garage is an inert nuclear missile.

On Wednesday, a military museum in Ohio called police in the city of Bellevue to report an offer of a rather unusual donation.

The police then sent a bomb squad to the potential donor’s home.

“And we think it’s gonna be a long, long time before we get another call like this again,” police said referring to Elton John’s iconic song Rocket Man.

In a press release, police say the device is “in fact a Douglas AIR-2 Genie (previous designation MB-1), an unguided air-to-air rocket that is designed to carry a 1.5 kt W25 nuclear warhead”.

However, there was no warhead attached, meaning there was never any danger to the community.

Bellevue Police Department spokesman Seth Tyler, told BBC News on Friday that the device was “just basically a gas tank for rocket fuel”.

He called the event “not serious at all”.

“In fact, our bomb squad member asked me why we were releasing a news release on a rusted piece of metal,” he said.

The missile was found in a garage outside Seattle
Image caption,The missile was found in a garage outside Seattle

The call to police came from the National Museum of the US Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.

The man, who does not wish to be identified and is “extremely irritated” by the media coverage, “was not expecting a call from us”, Mr Tyler said, saying it seems the museum did not warn him they would be reporting his donation offer.

“He was gracious enough to let us have a look at it and we determined that it was safe,” he said.

Officials never suspected that a nuclear warhead might be present, meaning there was no need for mass evacuations in the city of 150,000 people 10 miles (16km) east of Seattle.

The man told police that the rocket belonged to a neighbour who had died, and was originally purchased from an estate sale.

Police ultimately deemed the item an “artefact with no explosive hazard”.

“Because the item was inert and the military did not request it back, police left the item with the neighbour to be restored for display in a museum.”

According to the Seattle Times, the rocket was used by the US and Canada during the Cold War.

The first and only live firing of the Genie rocket was in 1957, according to the newspaper, and production of it ended in 1962.

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