Thanks to the
nuclear aspirations of North Korea and Iran, there's no shortage of rhetoric
along these lines: "We can't let rogue nations have nukes. They might use
them." Absent from the discussion are two elementary questions. First:
What is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons (and have civilians be
On August 6, 1945,
the U.S. government ordered the dropping of an atomic bomb on the Japanese city
of Hiroshima. A Tokyo radio broadcast described how "the impact of the
bomb was so terrific that practically all living things, human and animal, were
seared to death by the tremendous heat and pressure engendered by the blast."
Tokyo radio went on to call Hiroshima a city with corpses "too numerous to
be counted . . . literally seared to death." It was impossible to
"distinguish between men and women." The Associated Press carried the
first eyewitness account: a Japanese solider who described the victims as
"bloated and scorched -- such an awesome sight -- their legs and bodies
stripped of clothes and burned with a huge blister."
After visiting the
devastated city, Australian war correspondent, Wilfred Burchett described
Hiroshima as a "death-stricken alien planet" with patients presenting
purple skin hemorrhages, hair loss, drastically reduced white blood cell
counts, fever, nausea, gangrene, and other symptoms of a radiation disease he
called an "atomic plague."
Hiroshima (and Nagasaki), American nuclear researchers finally got around to
examining the effects of plutonium on the human body.
two kinds of experiments," says Peter Montague, director of the
Environmental Research Foundation. "In one kind, specific small groups
(African-American prisoners, mentally retarded children, and others) were
induced, by money or by verbal subterfuge, to submit to irradiation of one kind
or another. In all, some 800 individuals participated in these 'guinea pig'
trials. In the second kind, large civilian populations were exposed to
intentional releases of radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere."
Far from a
momentary lapse amidst post-"Good War" paranoia, these U.S. radiation
experiments have left a trail of declassified documents that stretches three
In Iraq (commencing
in 1991), Afghanistan (since 2001), Yugoslavia (1999), and a testing ground
such as Vieques, Puerto Rico (only recently halted), the U.S. has continued to
spread the radioactive aromatherapy via depleted uranium (DU) armor-piercing
the uranium bursts into flame and all but liquifies, searing through steel
armor like a white hot phosphorescent flare" explains James Ridgeway in
the Village Voice.
The heat of the
shell causes any diesel fuel vapors in the enemy tank to explode, and the crew
inside is burned alive. As grisly as that may sound, the effects of DU do not
end with the scorched bodies of Iraqi "collateral damage."
activist Dr Helen Caldicott explains that DU shells create "tiny
aerosolized particles less than five microns in diameter, small enough to be
inhaled" and can travel "long distances when airborne."
"There is no
safe dose or dose rate below which dangers disappear," John Gofman, a
former associate director of Livermore National Laboratory, one of the
scientists who worked on the atomic bomb, and co-discoverer of uranium-233,
reminds us. "Serious, lethal effects from minimal radiation doses are not
'hypothetical,' 'just theoretical,' or 'imaginary.' They are real."
question: Who are the real rogues here?
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.