“There isn’t a nuclear scientist alive,” wrote William Arkin, one of the co-authors of the article, “who didn’t believe that the first U.S. nuclear weapons deployed overseas were sent to Britain. Now we know they actually went to French Morocco first [in 1953].”

That is only part of the legerdemain involved. The first location where nuclear weapons were secretly stored was Nouasseur Air Base near Casablanca, because it had the best runway and infrastructure already in place. It was a French air base. The French government, as an ally and fellow member of NATO, allowed the U.S. to use a section of Nouasseur as a staging site for B-36 nuclear attacks on the Soviet Union.

However, Americans told the French that only the bombs’ bodies, called non-nuclear assemblies, were stored at Nouasseur. According to the information provided to all but an elite few Americans, the pits, i.e., the plutonium and/or uranium cores, would be sent from the U.S. as needed. Actually, both the bodies and the pits were stored in Morocco.

The strategic need for this staging site was to deter the Soviets from invading Europe: The USSR conventional war machine far outmatched that of America and the Europeans: It could count on huge reserves of its still young, combat-seasoned men under arms; its pre-positioned war materiel was still in good condition for combat; and it enjoyed relatively short lines of transport and communications.

has been converted to a local pdf file for security reasons

By August 1950 Operational Storage Sites for nuclear weapons storage were under contract in French Morocco at Nouasseur, Sidi Slimane, and Ben Guerir. These storage sites were under construction in May 1951.