April 1, 1961 – The approximate date, after President Dwight Eisenhower signed the formal authorization on December 2, 1960, that the first U.S. SIOP – Single Integrated Operational Plan – went into effect.  According to Eric Schlosser’s 2013 book, “Command and Control:  Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Incident, and the Illusion of  Safety” (New York:  Penguin Press), the SIOP featured 3,720 targets grouped into more than 1,000 ground zeros that would be struck by 3,423 nuclear weapons aimed at the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and Eastern Europe.  Eisenhower’s order was kept secret from the American people, the Congress, and even the NATO military alliance.  The President later confided to his naval aide Pete Aurand that the casualty estimates, the sheer number of targets, the redundant bombs for each, “frighten the devil out of me.” (Source:  Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick.  “The Untold History of the United States.” New York:  Gallery Books, 2012, p. 287.)

April 7, 1989 – The 6,400-ton Soviet nuclear submarine, the Komsomolets (K-278) became the fourth nuclear vessel of the U.S.S.R. to sink during the Cold War (1945-1991).  42 sailors were lost, as well as two torpedoes equipped with nuclear warheads, when the ship sank into mile-deep water in the Barents Sea.  A 1994 expedition detected some plutonium leakage from one of the nuclear-tipped torpedoes.  Dozens of warheads and nuclear reactors lie at the bottom of Earth’s oceans from predominantly American and Soviet submarines, aircraft, and other naval vessels constituting a long-term radioactive environmental and public health threat to the globe.  (Source:  Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew.  “Blind Man’s Bluff:  The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage.”  New York:  Public Affairs, 1998, p. 243.)

April 8, 2009 – Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris, and Ivan Oelrich released a report entitled, “From Counterforce to Minimum Deterrence: A New Nuclear Policy on the Path Toward Eliminating Nuclear Weapons,” Federation of American Scientists and Natural Resources Defense Council Occasional Paper No. 7 which argued that the United States needs only 500 nuclear weapons for deterring all possible global adversaries.  A group of high-ranking U.S. Air Force officers, including James Wood Forsyth, Jr., Colonel B. Chance Saltzman, and Gary Schaub, Jr. in the Spring 2010 issue of the journal Strategic Studies Quarterly (Vol. 4, No. 1 – page 82), were even more optimistic calling for a total minimum deterrence force of only 311 U.S. nuclear weapons.   Today, there exists over 10,000 nuclear weapons, including strategic, tactical, and reserve warheads, in global nuclear arsenals.   (Source:  Eric Schlosser.  “Command and Control:  Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Incident, and the Illusion of Safety.” New York:  Penguin Press, 2013, pp. 476-77, 483, 582)

April 21, 1964 – NASA’s Transit 5bn satellite failed to reach orbit after its launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida dispersing 2.1 pounds of plutonium (half-life:  24,400 years) from its SNAP-RTG – Radio Isothermic Generator – into Earth’s atmosphere.  This is just one of many examples of inadvertent and usually underreported incidents of manmade radioactive contamination of the atmosphere, surface, and oceans due to the activities of U.S. and other military and civilian space agencies.  Although considered essential for deep space missions, where use of solar power is problematical, such as Pioneer 10 and 11, Voyager 1 and 2, Galileo, and Cassini, RTGs powered by plutonium or similar dangerous radioactive materials do constitute a definable risk to human populations.  A more notable example is the RTG-equipped Apollo 13 lunar module, used as a lifeboat by the three astronauts after an explosion destroyed oxygen and vital supplies in the command module, jettisoned into the South Pacific Ocean in the vicinity of the Tonga Trench in April of 1970.  (Source:  Day of the Week.org and Dr. Karl Grossman’s BeyondNuclear.org)

April 26, 1986 – A fire in the core of the No. 4 unit and a resulting explosion that blew the roof off the reactor building of the Chernobyl Nuclear Complex located about 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Kiev, capital of the then Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of the U.S.S.R., resulted in the largest ever release of radioactive material from a civilian reactor with the possible exception of the Fukushima Dai-chi accident of March 11, 2011 in northeast Japan.  Two were killed and 200 others hospitalized, but the Soviet government did not release specific details of the nuclear meltdown until two days later when Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and other European neighbors detected abnormally high levels of radioactivity.  8,000 died and 435,000 people were evacuated from the region in the ensuing weeks, months, and years.   Although West Germany, Sweden, and other nations provided assistance to the Soviet Union to deal with the deadly, widespread radioactive fallout from the accident, some argue today that the U.S., China, Russia, Japan, and other nations should establish a permanent, multilateral civilian-military-humanitarian response force to quickly address such serious nuclear and natural disasters in a time-urgent, nonpartisan manner.  (Sources:  “Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year for 1987.”  Chicago:  Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1987, pp. 61, 168 and “The Untold History of the United States.” 2012, p. 450.)

April 30, 1976 – Chicago Sun-Times’ reporter Robert R. Jones, after conducting an extensive series of interviews with nuclear experts and Atomic Energy Commission (now known as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) representatives, concluded that, “Licensee and AEC officials agree that a security system at a licensed civilian nuclear power plant could not prevent a takeover or sabotage by a small number of people, perhaps as few as two or three.”   Today despite reported efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to shore up such defenses, the strong threat of nuclear terrorism reinforces the belief that U.S., as well as global civilian nuclear reactors, should be phased out and shut down by the year 2025, if not sooner.  (Source:  Louis Rene Beres.  “Apocalypse:  Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics.”  Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press, 1980.)