Declassified Docs Expose UK's Secret Cold War Plan To Nuke Mid-East Oil Fields

Authored by Irina Slav via,

The 1950s were a turbulent time on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

With the Second World War over and the star role played by crude oil in its outcome, British and U.S. intelligence agencies wasted no time working out scenarios should the Soviets invade the Middle East.

In hindsight, especially to younger generations, this might seem eccentric, but not to those who remember the Cold War and the paranoia that raged on both sides. In the 50s, the British and U.S. intelligence services were genuinely concerned about a further Soviet expansion, into the Middle East, which at the time was the main source of crude oil for both countries. No wonder the region was a priority security issue for both countries.

The plans were first hatched by U.S. President Truman in 1949, Russian Sputnik writes, citing a number of recently declassified documents from both the UK and the United States.

Dubbed “oil denial”, the plans involved oil company personnel in the Middle East sabotaging their own oilfields and refineries in case of a Soviet invasion, in hopes of restricting the invaders’ access to the precious commodity.

While sound in themselves, the denial plans of the Brits faced problems: the empire’s influence in the Middle East was in decline. Iran’s and Iraq’s governments, according to declassified documents, were believed to be particularly unlikely to cooperate with oil companies in sabotaging their own oil industry.

The reason for this was that the UK no longer had a monopolistic presence in these two, despite the U.S.-led 1953 coup in Iran, which returned the shah to power and BP to the helm of the Iranian oil industry. BP was at the helm, true, but the Iranian government controlled the refineries, and was building more. The Soviet invasion scenario involved not just oilfields but also refineries.

Fearing the Iraqi and Iranian governments’ likely unwillingness to play along with the sabotage plans, Britain was left with few options to keep the Soviets from the oil. Air strikes were the most logical option, but there was a problem there, too: there were not enough airplanes to carry out all the necessary attacks in case of an invasion. As a result, the nuclear option was put on the table by a Joint Chiefs of Staff committee in the mid-1950s.

There were discussions with U.S. intelligence and military authorities on the joint use of nuclear strikes on government-controlled refineries in Iraq and Iran, but there are no documents declassified that state which nuclear plan was eventually approved. In any case, American nuclear strikes on Iranian oil facilities were deemed “the only feasible means of oil denial” for Iran, despite the pro-Western shah.

More discussions followed, and the nukes were eventually taken off the table, thanks to CIA operative George Prussing, who was assigned to work with oil companies in the Middle East on the best way to ensure the success of oil denial plans.

Prussing concluded that this way was via ground demolition of fields and facilities. Still, it’s good that the Soviets never tried to expand into the Middle East — so soon after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear weapons were still very popular as the ultimate problem solver.


machiavellian-trader Wed, 01/31/2018 - 05:02 Permalink

They fucked up, should of nuked it.


Imagine how great the world would be today without all the sand niggas spreading their bullshit across the world and the amount of money and lives that would of been saved on future wars.

Setarcos machiavellian-trader Wed, 01/31/2018 - 06:47 Permalink

How dumb can you get?  How old are you?  Do you remember the OPEC oil embargo of the 70s, or the sweet deal stitched up with Nixon and the Saudis, which ensured both supplies and brought the petro-dollar into being, which in turn has enabled US economic hegemony ever since.

Don't you know that the US had used so much of its own oil since about 1900 that after WW2 it was import dependent and still is.

If the oilfields had been nuked back in the 50s your life - presumably in the US - would have been totally different, you might never have owned a car, nor had most material possessions you take as a given.

In reply to by machiavellian-trader

Pol Pot Setarcos Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:10 Permalink

Maybe you Americans would now drive smaller more fuel efficient cars, or gone to electric cars a few decades ago, and had some comprehensive first world public transportation instead of eating up oil at a per cavity rate that is 5x that of any other other know would have been better of if the middle east was nuked. Today there would be no dependence on oil, you would lead the world in green energy, and you would not have the Israeli hand up your political backside. A see it as a misssed opportunity.....

In reply to by Setarcos

Setarcos Pol Pot Wed, 01/31/2018 - 13:37 Permalink

I'm in Australia, so most of your diatribe has nothing to do with me personally, nor Australia.  Don't jump to conclusions.  I might suppose that you are in Cambodia, Pol Pot, but probably not, probably someplace else a few rungs down the ladder, like Australia, but still the same ladder of attempting endless growth on a finite planet.  Pots should not call kettles black even if they are only grey by comparison.  

In reply to by Pol Pot

AGuy Setarcos Wed, 01/31/2018 - 15:03 Permalink

"If the oilfields had been nuked back in the 50s your life - presumably in the US - would have been totally different, you might never have owned a car, nor had most material possessions you take as a given."

He probably would have not been born. I think if the Soviets invaded the ME, the NATO would have gone to war.

In reply to by Setarcos

Setarcos machiavellian-trader Wed, 01/31/2018 - 07:58 Permalink

On top of your ignorance about what would have happened to the US/West if a self-inflicted oil shortage had been caused by nuking the ME during the 1950s - the Soviet Union had its own oil btw - you are also woefully ignorant about "sand niggas spreading their bullshit across the world".  None of that was happening until wars waged by the US/NATO in the region, just as there were no refugees fleeing Vietnam until that war was waged.  But as regards the ME and further into Asia, e.g. Afghanistan, what you call "sand niggas" - as if all of the ME was desert!, get a map - would not be fleeing from Iraq, Libya and Syria if their respective countries had not been invaded.  If a few of them happen to be militants and potential terrorists, then bear in mind that the CIA enabled Al Qaida in Afghanistan and the US and Israel are instrumental in creating ISIS ... so if some find their way into Europe and the US, this is what the CIA calls blow back.  Wear it, though in fact remarkably little has happened, with serious events like 9/11 being false flags perpetrated by the CIA/Mossad and associates, certainly not Osama bin Laden, who was a CIA asset anyway aka Tim Osman.

As for Israel?  Well the Zionists can be said to have invented terrorism with the Stern Gang, Irgun, etc. and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, which then gave rise to the PLO and Hamas, for instance, in response.  YOU invert history, put the cart before the horse and mistake effect for cause.  Go back a century to the British and French Sykes-Picot Agreement, which imposed a false map on the ME and began modern conflicts (there were FAR fewer before), but especially the Balfour Declaration which "gave" Palestine to European Zionists ... since when there has never been peace.  Your "sand nigga" insult is obscene and speaks volumes about your ignorant prejudices.

In reply to by machiavellian-trader

Snaffew machiavellian-trader Wed, 01/31/2018 - 09:27 Permalink

????  By sand niggas I hope you mean the US armed forces because they and their puppet master brethren in Washington DC are the ones spreading their bullshit across the world blowing taxpayer dollars and debt to kill people in their crazy manufactured wars.  All this in the service of MIC and the profiteering companies involved--Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin along with the financial institutions that act as the intermediaries.

In reply to by machiavellian-trader

Bemused Observer machiavellian-trader Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:13 Permalink

Well, that would definitely have prevented anyone else from using it. Including us, which would have made the 60's, 70's and 80's very different.

It would also be a darker, grimier world, especially north of the equator (where WE live). The oil and gas in those fields would catch fire, and there'd be no way to extinguish it. Beneath the ground, protected, the fire would smolder for decades and decades...(see Centralia, PA)

Those fields are immense compared to the area burning in PA. Centralia had to be abandoned, and still burns to this day, with poisonous gas pockets making their way to the surface. It is, and will continue to be, a no-go area for decades to come. The fire there started in the math, imagine something burning constantly for over 50 years...

50 years plus of constantly burning oil fields in the ME would have covered much of the northern hemisphere in a thick layer of oily ash. We'd be living beneath leaden-colored skies, and the air would smell like a Nascar meet. If course, we'd probably have died off in huge numbers due to starvation or illnesses caused by the toxic smoke.

So yes, the 'sand niggas' would have been effectively silenced, but the bad news is that it really wouldn't matter anyway at that point.

In reply to by machiavellian-trader

AGuy Bemused Observer Wed, 01/31/2018 - 15:11 Permalink

"Beneath the ground, protected, the fire would smolder for decades and decades...(see Centralia, PA)"

I think the plan was to nuke the infrastructure (pipelines, refineries, pumping stations. Well heads likely would have remained intact unless there was a near direct hit.

Underground Oil\NatGas cannot sustain fire like coal fields do. Coal seams have access to water which can supply oxygen via the water-gas shift conversion (H2O + CO = H2 + CO2) Also coal seems have some access to air since they are close to the surface. FYI: Soviets used underground nukes to put out well Oil/NatGas fires and seal them.

In reply to by Bemused Observer

BritBob Wed, 01/31/2018 - 05:07 Permalink

Russia tells Britain give back the Falklands before telling US what to do.

RUSSIA has told Britain it should "clean its conscience" and give back the Falkland Islands before it criticises them over their involvement in Ukraine. Moscow's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin made the shocking remarks when responding to his British counterpart Matthew Rycroft at a UN security council meeting in New York. (Daily Express 4 Feb 2017)

They forget that a lot of territory was 'taken' in the 19th century (much of a norm). That doesn't excuse their actions in the 21st century.

Falkland Islands – The Usurpation (1 pg):

HenryHall Pandelis Wed, 01/31/2018 - 08:18 Permalink

Anyway, as to the Falkland Islands, it is and should be the Falkland islanders themselves who decide whether they want their land to be part of UK or part of Argentina.

Just like the Crimeans decided whether to be part of Russia or part of Ukraine. And the East Germans had a referendum on whether or not to be part of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Or rather should have been allowed a referendum.

In reply to by Pandelis

BigJim DavidC Wed, 01/31/2018 - 06:01 Permalink

Member for 8 years.

Thinks the duration of membership has some bearing on the quality of a member's comments. Signs off his comments with his username despite the fact everyone can see what his username is by looking at... his username.


In reply to by DavidC

RationalLuddite BritBob Wed, 01/31/2018 - 05:44 Permalink

Bobby ... the fact that you are putting sooo much energy into ZH is interesting as:

1. Implies that this forum is important in leveraging the real world; 

2. You are a delusional retard, oooorrr ...

3. You are a lying,  deceiving,  energy sapping, misdirecting, whooooring  Agitprop troll.

Please choooose my Malvinas man :)

In reply to by BritBob

PrivetHedge BritBob Wed, 01/31/2018 - 06:03 Permalink

Britbob, what you have missed is that no one, including the british, cares about the Falkland islands.

It's a barren rock with a few irrelevant ex-pats doing something they'd do far better in Lancashire or any other place in the UK. 

So let me repeat: No One Cares About The Falklands. It's not worth our money and diplomatic costs in any way, shape or form, UK PLC would be far better just to give it back.

Then perhaps you could concentrate on not selling arms to genocidal maniacs in Saudi and not supplying ISIS in Syria like you've been doing, against international and UK laws.

In reply to by BritBob

52821740 BritBob Wed, 01/31/2018 - 07:23 Permalink

 Bob I'm with you but  I think 'give back' is the wrong term.  From what I can ascertain the French were the first to settle on one of the Islands followed closely by the Brits on another without knowing that the French were on the other one.  The Spanish arrived later and kicked the Brits of their island and of course the Brits later recovered the Island so the  Spanish weren't the first ones there anyway contrary to their claims and the Argies never conquered the the Islands as an independent nation except briefly during the Falklands war.  

I went into the 'Falklands Museum ' in Buenas Airies and never before have I seen such misleading propaganda in a Museum.

In reply to by BritBob

Easyp Wed, 01/31/2018 - 05:43 Permalink

Bit of a none story.  Now tell me what the current US strategy is in the Middle East?  I ask because most of the world is confused as fuck after Obama, Hillary and now Trump have meddled in the region without any clear strategy.

Imo the President should frack at home, underwrite Israel's security and let the ME rip itself up.

BigJim PrivetHedge Wed, 01/31/2018 - 06:17 Permalink

The Israelis are anything but morons.

But most of them are brainwashed Jewish supremacists doing the bidding of high functioning psychpaths in their own government and in the upper echelons of International Finance. The latter are also a menace to non-Zionist interests as they've paid for endless shillery in their host countries' media and academia. The evidence strongly suggests they intend to weaken or even destroy the societal cohesiveness of those same countries, presumably to make them easier to manipulate, but also to require the expansion and increase in authoritarianism of those governments, over which they have wildly disproportionate influence.

In reply to by PrivetHedge

BigJim Easyp Wed, 01/31/2018 - 06:08 Permalink

Most of the world is confused only because most of the world are too lazy to have researched the matter and stumbled upon the Oded Yinon plan that led to the "Clean Break: a strategy for Securing the Realm" paper, written by many of the people who put together US MENA policy for Dubya after 911.


Furthermore most people are unfamiliar with Wesley Clarke unwittingly corroborating the strategy on film in his famous "7 Countries in 5 Years" interview.

Wake up.

In reply to by Easyp

Dragon HAwk Wed, 01/31/2018 - 06:36 Permalink

Last i heard Scientists can't agree on what would happen if you Nuked an Oil Field, 

 all that hydrocarbon burning in a flash instant.. if that doesn't scare you.. think fertilizer bomb the size of Texas.

Brazen Heist Wed, 01/31/2018 - 06:43 Permalink

Drop a nuke in the Gwadar oil field and nobody will want to buy irradiated crude oil anymore. The Saudi State tanks and so does the global economy. 

Oops, sorry for the heads up on that.

Suicyco Wed, 01/31/2018 - 06:44 Permalink

"In hindsight, especially to younger generations, this might seem eccentric"

Not at all, most interesting. Well... I'm a weirdo... Got several books from the 80's that do an imaginary exercise of cold war going hot with the tanks of the Warsaw pact rolling through the Fulda Gap.