This Spring in Nuclear Threat History

By |2020-04-07T09:30:12-07:00April 7, 2020|

April 4, 2018 – On the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Kings Bay Plowshares Seven consisting of Catholic priest Steve Kelly, Dorothy Day’s granddaughter Martha Hennessy, Clare Grady, Elizabeth McAllister, Mark Colville, Patrick O’Neill, and Carmen Trotta, cut a hole in a security fence and entered one of two sites in the continental United States where the greatest number of nuclear weapons are stored – Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Marys, Georgia where six Trident Ohio-class strategic nuclear missile submarines (SSBNs) are based.  Each of the submarines carry 24 D5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles that usually have twelve MIRVed W76 nuclear warheads (100 kiloton explosive) or W88 nuclear warheads (300-475 kilotons explosive) on each rocket, a deadly total of 192 warheads which theoretically could each trigger nuclear winter.  Inside the base, the seven nonviolent individuals of the Catholic faith sang hymns, hung banners and crime-scene tape, and recorded the action with body cameras.  They also spray-painted slogans, pounded a display of a Tomahawk missile with a hammer and poured human blood on an official seal of the base, depicting a missile crossed with a submarine. One of them left an indictment against the United States.  They were all arrested, jailed, and charged with conspiracy, destruction of government property, depredation of a naval installation, and trespassing.  Four were released on bail after two months and the others remained in jail for over a year.  On October 24, 2019 in a widely publicized trial attended by hundreds of people including activist and actor Martin Sheen, and held in U.S. Southern District Federal Court in Brunswick, Georgia, they were found guilty on all counts by a jury and are expected to be sentenced sometime in 2020. These peace activists were an offshoot of the Catholic Worker movement founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin on May Day, 1933.  According to one of the members of Plowshares, Art Laffin, since the group’s first such action on September 9, 1980, “…others acting in community and some individually have entered military bases and weapons facilities and have symbolically and actually disarmed components of U.S. first-strike nuclear weapons systems:  the MX, Pershing II, and cruise missiles, Minuteman ICBMs, Trident II missiles, Trident submarines, B-52 bombers, P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft, the Navstar system, the ELF communication system, the Milstar Satellite system, a nuclear capable battleship, and the Aegis destroyer.  Combat aircraft used for military intervention such as F-111 fighter bomber, the F-15A fighter, the F-18 bomber, the A-10 Warthog (equipped with depleted uranium munitions), the Hawk aircraft as well as combat helicopters and other conventional weapons, military aircraft, missile launchers, bazookas, grenade launchers, and AK-5 military rifles have been disarmed.  Also model weapons have been disarmed at an ‘Arms Bazaar.’”  Comments: Peace advocates worldwide support this humanitarian nonviolent symbolic destruction of antiquated doomsday weaponry and the mindset that perpetuates the widespread acceptance and even affection for the institution of warfare as a legitimate means to settle disputes by elite world leaders and their supporters.  But often ignored in these highly successful efforts to penetrate these supposedly highly secure bases and disrupt and destroy these weapons and their platforms is the fact that these protests starkly illustrate that these extremely dangerous and deadly devices are, despite high-level assurances to the contrary, unexpectedly vulnerable to attacks or theft by domestic or foreign-based criminal elements and terrorists who could wreck extreme havoc and cause extremely large numbers of casualties if they successfully discharged these weapons of mass destruction, or helped precipitate an accidental nuclear exchange.  (Sources:  Paul Elie. “The Pope and Catholic Radicals Come Together Against Nuclear Weapons.” The New Yorker. Nov. 19, 2019 and “A History of the Plowshares Movement – A Talk by Art Laffin.” Oct. 22, 2019 http://www.kingsbayplowshares7.org/plowshares-history/ and other mainstream and alternative media sites.)

April 11, 2018 – Lorelei Goff’s article on The Appalachian Voices.org website, “Appalachia’s Toxic Dumping Ground: Ohio Residents Speak Out About The State’s Influx of Fracking Waste,” and other recent articles like “America’s Radioactive Secret” by Justin Nobel in the February 2020 issue of Rolling Stone illustrate the little known connection between the two existential threats to humanity today, the nuclear one (whether that means fears that nuclear weapons will be used on human populations or that contaminants from these doomsday weapons’ production cycle or from civilian nuclear power plants will further poison our waters, land, and bodies) and global climate change caused by the increasing utilization of fossil fuels and the accompanying impacts (which this writer was shocked to discover for the first time included harmful radioactive contamination) on the environment and our species.  The fact that conventional oil and gas wells as well as fracked natural gas exploitation in the United States results in the introduction into our previously protected surface environment of at least a trillion gallons a year of salty often dangerously radioactive toxic brine from deep underground, a naturally occurring waste product of oil and gas wells, is yet another reason why greener energy choices like solar, wind, hydropower, and possibly geothermal are a much safer and wiser alternative than oil, gas, and nuclear power.  Both articles, particularly Nobel’s Rolling Stone piece, which is a preview of his future book on this subject, point out that beyond the threat to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia residents who are being exposed to thousands of brine waste-hauling trucks, there are about a million oil and gas wells in a total of 33 states and radioactive brine dumping sites in many other additional states.  Samples of radium, usually the most abundant radionuclide in brine waste water, and specifically the most common isotopes of which are radium-226 (radon) and radium-228 (with half-lives of 1,600 and 5.75 years, respectively), are judged safe by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission if they do not exceed 60 picocuries per liter.  Testing of the water routinely found inside waste trucks by credible academic institutions have found radiation levels as high as 3,500 to 8,500 picocuries per liter.  “Oil tanks, filters, pumps, hoses and trucks themselves that brine touches can all be contaminated with the radium building up into hardened ‘scale’ concentrating to as high as 400,000 picocuries per gram,” according to  John Stoltz director of the environmental center at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.  Stoltz also warned that, “Breathing in this stuff and ingesting it are the worst types of exposure. You are irradiating your tissues from the inside out.”  But while the radioactive particles fired off by radium can be blocked by the skin, it does readily attach to dust, making it very easy to accidentally inhale or ingest.  The problem would be bad enough if we just considered the health risks to oil and gas well workers, brine waste water truck drivers, workers who do the actual dumping at legitimate waste sites (as well as illegal ones such as abandoned deep coal mines for example), and local populations exposed accidentally to contamination by their interaction with exposed workers as well as their proximity to roads frequented by the brine hauling waste trucks.  But in point of fact, the problem is so hidden and misunderstood, by not only government environmental regulators but also oil and gas and related industrial interests that these contaminants are being purposely dumped into our environment under the guise of providing beneficial advantages.  One example is the spreading of brine on roads.  Nobel writes that, “The industry pawns off brine –offering it for free—on rural townships that use the salty solution as a winter de-icer and, in the summertime, as a dust tamper on unpaved roads.”  It is even sold in home improvement stores as a liquid de-icer called AquaSalina for use on patios, driveways and sidewalks, but an Ohio state laboratory tested a sample of the liquid and found it contained a dangerous radioactive level of 2,491 picocuries per liter.  The radium isotopes in this contaminated brine can obviously cause skin, lung, bone and other cancers including chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  Comments:  Over the past decades, the multibillion dollar fossil fuel industry has lobbied and successfully convinced the Environmental Protection Agency and many state environmental agencies to exempt this brine from being defined as hazardous waste.  However, after many years of workers’ lawsuits, legal settlements, and word spreading on the grapevine, it is getting harder and harder to hide this nuclear threat. Liz Moran of the New York Public Interest Research Group says, “It can be argued that if you close the loophole, you would put the industry out of business.”  Increasingly Americans and other global citizenry are demanding an end to this out-of-sight, out-of-mind deadly contamination of the ecosystem by pushing for a truly global Green New Deal which addresses both existential threats to humanity’s future – nuclear and climate catastrophes.  To quote a phrase from a famous film from the Seventies, “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

April 12, 1970 – In the Bay of Biscay, almost 300 nautical miles northwest of Spain, K-8, a Soviet November class Type 627 attack submarine powered by two nuclear reactors and carrying four nuclear torpedoes experienced two fires in the dual reactors on April 8th which had to be sealed off resulting in the initial deaths of eight crewman.  The submarine was able to surface and despite the arrival of a Soviet repair vessel that was able to attach and tow the submarine, bad weather and heavy seas not only doomed the salvage operation but led to the sinking of the vessel with the loss of all hands, an additional 52 Soviet sailors on this date. K-8 sank to a depth of 15,000 feet making recovery of the submarine’s reactor vessels and four nuclear torpedoes impossible.  Comments:  This deadly tragedy was just one example of dozens or even hundreds of accidents involving submarines, surface ships, and aircraft that led to the loss of nuclear propulsion units and/or nuclear weapons.  Some of the nuclear reactors and warheads lost at sea are leaking highly radioactive toxins affecting not only the flora and fauna of the deep, but the health and well-being of millions of people.  In the last decade with the unfortunate and irrational rejuvenation of the nuclear arms race, more of these types of accidents have probably already occurred and have been kept secret for national security reasons by the nine nuclear weapons states.  Even if humanity’s luck continues and nuclear conflicts are avoided, increasing contamination of the biosphere and the detrimental effects of increased radioactivity from nuclear weapons production and deployment on the health and well-being of our species and countless others are penultimate reasons why this madness must cease!  Global citizenry are working feverishly to achieve the goal of ending Cold War II and immediately terminating the renewed nuclear arms race, while pushing for large reductions and the eventual elimination of these doomsday weapons. (Sources: William Arkin and Joshua Handler. “Neptune Papers II: Naval Nuclear Accidents at Sea.” Greenpeace International. 1990; Spencer Dunmore. “Lost Subs.”  Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2002; and Robert Farley. “Wild: The Soviet Submarine K-8 Sunk With 4 Nuclear Torpedoes Still Onboard.” The National Interest. Feb. 11, 2020 http://www.nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/wild-submarine-k-8-sunk-4-nuclear-torpedoes-still-onboard-122261 accessed March 11, 2020.)

April 27 – May 22, 2020 – (postponed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic) Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) at United Nations Headquarters in New York City which will occur several weeks after the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the NPT on March 5th.  The international community continues to consider the NPT as one of the most seminal arms control treaties of the Nuclear Age.  The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was first signed on July 1, 1968 by the U.S., U.K., the Soviet Union, and 59 other nations and entered into force on March 5, 1970.  Currently, the treaty has 191 participating nation-states.  However nuclear weapons states India, Pakistan and Israel have refused to sign the treaty and North Korea revoked its signature.  More recently Iran has threatened to abandon the NPT if its European partners report its 2015 agreement breaches to the U.N. Security Council.  Comments:  While the Cold War-era world didn’t have to deal with a worst-case scenario of dozens of nuclear weapons states warned about by Democratic presidential candidate John Kennedy during the third Nixon-Kennedy Debate on Oct. 13, 1960, today things have reached a crisis point again.  Although there have been some historic meetings between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, despite some previous tit-for-tat nuclear saber-rattling tweets between the two men, it appears that a treaty ending the Korean War while also denuclearizing the Korean peninsula remains unlikely in the short-term.  More concerning may be President Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and renewed stronger sanctions on that nation that recently led the Iranians to reverse their commitment to comply with the 2015 agreement in concert with their European partners while also criticizing the U.S.-led sanctions which they claim helped cripple the Iranian response to the deadly corona virus pandemic.  More frightening still is the fact that both the U.S. and Iran have heightened tensions by the use of military force including the assassination of a key Iranian leader by a U.S. drone and the launching by Iran of over 20 ballistic missiles at U.S. military bases in Iraq earlier this year.  At the very least there are fears that a conventional war may break out between the nations, most probably after the November 3, 2020 U.S. presidential election.  An increasingly likely war between the U.S. and either North Korea or Iran might inadvertently break the tripwire that triggers the first use of nuclear weapons in combat since 1945.  Several years ago, President Trump openly promoted the idea that Japan, South Korea, and other allies like possibly the Saudis should join the Nuclear Club which would obviously set U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy back decades.  In legal terms, the long-term prospects of a continued healthy NPT do not look good due to the fact that the vast majority of nations agreed to forestall their development of nuclear weapons fifty years ago only after the Nuclear Club members signed on to a critical pledge made in Article VI of the Treaty:  “All Parties undertake to pursue good faith negotiations on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament and to general and complete disarmament.”   Although some significant progress did occur in these commitments during the last decades of the Cold War and in the 1990s and early 2000s when three former Soviet states Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, South Africa, and Libya denuclearized, events of the last fifteen years have almost totally negated these successes.  A renewed global nuclear arms race has been underway for several years, the nuclear weapons states have rejected the United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons signed by dozens of nations on July 7, 2017 and while the trend of international state-to-state conventional wars have been reduced, the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) continues unabated for two decades and counting.  Thankfully many millions of global citizenry continue to protest and lobby their political representatives to end this counterproductive paradigm that has killed hundreds of millions of people over the last few centuries while demanding an end to international arms production and sales, the demilitarization of the planet, ending the nuclear threat represented by both nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and reorienting global priorities toward addressing climate change, cleaning up military and civilian toxic sites worldwide, preventing serious disease outbreaks, ending global poverty and providing a free education to the global masses regardless of their lack of economic means. (Sources: Jack Mendelsohn and David Grahame, editors.  “Arms Control Chronology.”  Washington, DC: Center for Defense Information, 2002, p.1, “Iran to Quit NPT If Its Nuclear Programme Referred to UN: Tehran Says It Will Abandon Key Global Treaty If European Powers Bring Nuclear Deal Breaches to U.N. Security Council.” Aljazeera. January 20, 2020.  http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/iran-zrif-skip-davos-forum-programme-200120094500271.html and United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, “Background Information: 2020 NPT Review Conference.” United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs. New York, NY. http://www.meetings/unoda.org/section/conf-npt-2020-background/inf/ both accessed March 12, 2020 and other mainstream and alternative news sources.)

May 9, 1970 – One of the most notable labor leaders, human rights advocates (and participant in Civil Rights-era protests including the Selma March in 1965), peace activists (and opponent of the Vietnam War), and anti-nuclear spokesmen of the 20th century was silenced on this date when Walter Philip Reuther, along with his wife and a number of friends and colleagues, perished in a plane crash near Pellston, Michigan.  Reuther was born in Wheeling, W.Va. on Sept. 1, 1907 and as a young man he moved to Detroit where he applied his skills as an expert tool and die maker in the auto industry.  Later, he was elected president of an influential auto workers’ union local group and led several sit-down strikes in 1937 and 1940, became president of the United Auto Workers in 1946 (and held that post the rest of his life), and helped found the anticommunist liberal organization Americans for Democratic Action.  In 1952, he was elected president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations and within three years he was a key player in the merger of both unions to form the AFL-CIO.  In the 1960s, he marched with Caesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in Delano, California and also strongly showed his support for the Civil Rights movement by participating in the August 1963 March on Washington led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.  The Republican candidate for president in 1964, a staunchly conservative Barry Goldwater, once declared Reuther “a more dangerous menace than the Sputnik or anything Soviet Russia might do in America.”  In a Labor Day speech in 1966, Reuther presented a strong case for utilizing rapid technological advances not for war but for improving the human condition:  “The question that challenges the wisdom and the sense of human solidarity of the whole human family is the overriding question:  To what purpose do we commit the potential power of the 20th century technological revolution?  Do we harness the potential power to the madness of nuclear war or can we build a rational and responsible world community and harness the rising star of science and technology to man’s peaceful purposes?  The 20th century technological revolution has no ideology and it has no morality.  We must bend it to man’s peaceful purposes or we shall perish.” In another speech, Reuther proclaimed, “The people of the whole world are the prisoners of the Cold War and the insanity of the escalation of the nuclear arms race.  And that’s why I believe America has the responsibility for providing both the political and moral leadership to try to move the world out of this prison of the Cold War and the arms race towards reductions in the levels of armament because I believe that in the long run, peace is the only condition of human survival.” Comments: Fifty years ago a prominent voice of the poor, disenfranchised, and oppressed and a highly visible opponent of the nuclear arms race left us, and although he may be gone, Walter Reuther is not forgotten.  (Source:  The Reuther Library. “No Greater Calling: The Life of Walter P. Reuther.” Wayne State University. http://reuther100.wayne.edu accessed March 10, 2020.)

May 16, 2000New York Times journalist William Broad reported the release of declassified documents relating to a staff study by the U.S. Air Force Special Weapons Center conducted in January of 1959.  One of the participants in the study, the late astronomer-physicist Carl Sagan, was among several scientists tasked to assess the feasibility of conducting a nuclear weapons test on the lunar surface.  Sagan and the other participants concluded that the blast would “ruin the pristine environment of the moon.”  On January 27, 1967, the multilateral Outer Space Treaty was signed and the agreement was later entered into force on October 10 of that same year.  The treaty prohibits the placement of weapons of mass destruction in orbit, on the moon, or on any celestial body.    For decades the only possible amendment to this critical space treaty had been debate about utilizing nuclear weapons, as a last resort, to prevent a possible future asteroid or comet collision with our planet. Comments:  However in the last few years, the decades-long international legal and historical precedence prohibiting nuclear weapons from being deployed or exploded outside Earth’s atmosphere has significantly eroded and possibly is on its way to complete invalidation due to the actions of President Donald Trump.  Trump’s dangerous rhetoric (“Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?” 2016), anger-filled tweets aimed at North Korea and Iran, and his administration’s position that nuclear weapons may need to be tested routinely on a regular basis, despite a long-held scientific consensus by nuclear weapons laboratory experts that computer simulations have confirmed the long-term viability of the warheads (see JASON Group study conclusions  sourced below).  Additionally the President’s announcement of (in June of 2018) and follow-through with the establishment of the sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces as part of his Dec. 20, 2019 signing of the National Defense Authorization Act created The U.S. Space Force.  Although a Space Operations Service was part of the U.S. Air Force since 1982, it has now become an independent service charged with building the capability of fighting and winning wars in outer space which definitely constitutes a violation of the Outer Space Treaty and fuels the full-scale militarization of outer space possibly including unprecedented testing of nuclear weapons in orbital space or on heavenly bodies such as the Moon.  Trump’s actions aim to go way beyond established uses of the medium of outer space as mostly a reconnaissance platform for monitoring nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missile launches worldwide.  Obviously spy satellites and ground targeting systems have also been long deployed in the medium as well.  In the ensuing 18 months or less while preparations are underway to begin fulfilling its warfighting mission in outer space, it is fervently hoped by billions of global citizenry that President Trump is denied a second term and that more reasonable politicians and military leaders will reduce dramatically or even disestablish this means to trigger an irrational, further destabilizing species-threatening space arms race which might also trigger space- or ground-based nuclear war.  Even if large space conflict and the accompanying surface warfare is somehow avoided, smaller space conflicts will also contribute substantially to the growing problem of increasing exponentially the large number of pieces of orbital debris that encircle our planet, making manned and unmanned space travel riskier and eventually impossible.  Such an eventuality will make routine space weather forecasting and global communications problematic and even doom our species if we are someday unable to launch spacecraft or weaponry that can divert an incoming asteroid or comet determined to be on a collision course with Earth.  (Sources:  “Lifetime Extension Program (LEP): Executive Summary.”  JASON Program Office, The MITRE Corporation. JSA-09-334E, Sept 9, 2009. http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/jason/lep.pdf

Katie Rogers. “Trump Orders Establishment of Space Force as Sixth Military Branch.” New York Times. June 18, 2018 http://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/us/politics/Trump-space-force-sixth-military-branch.html

And “What’s the Space Force?”  U.S. Space Force. http://www.spaceforce.mil/About-Us/FAQs/what’s-the-space-force all of which were accessed on March 3, 2020.)

May 27, 1923 – Birthdate of one of the most controversial figures in U.S. foreign and military policy and most importantly U.S. nuclear weapons policy – Henry A. Kissinger.  Born into a Jewish family in Furth a Bavarian city in Germany, Kissinger as a teen moved with his family to the United States where he joined the U.S. Army and served with distinction in an intelligence unit fighting the Nazis and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. After the war he earned masters and doctorate degrees at Harvard University, then he became a foreign policy advisor to the presidential campaigns of Nelson Rockefeller.  More than a decade before he became prominent as President Nixon’s National Security Advisor in January 1969 and later as Secretary of State in 1973-77, he was a study director of nuclear weapons and foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations during which time he wrote a book “Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy” which was critical of President Eisenhower’s “massive retaliation” doctrine while also frighteningly advocating the use of tactical nuclear weapons for warfighting as part of his Realpolitik mindset. Later he played a dominant role in formulating U.S. foreign policy during the Nixon and Ford administrations calling for increased détente with the Soviets and the opening of relations with Communist China.  But many critics during that time and even today have rightfully criticized him for facilitating Nixon’s genocidal and sometimes secretive bombing of Indochina during the Vietnam War and for his support of a military coup in Chile launched on September 11, 1973 that resulted in not only the death of popularly elected democratic Socialist leader Salvador Allende but of the repression, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial murders of tens of thousands of leftists, religious leaders, journalists, indigenous and rural populations deemed enemies of the rightwing Latin American regimes involved in Operation Condor.  Comments:  Dr. Kissinger’s historical legacy is at best a mixed one but also predominantly negative from a progressive perspective.  While he did help create a ceasefire agreement to end major U.S. fighting in the Vietnam War in January 1973 and was nominated but declined accepting the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, notable critics like New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd had their say on this matter, “Any peace prize that goes to Henry Kissinger but not Gandhi ain’t worth a can of Alpo.” In terms of the nuclear threat, again Kissinger’s commitment to the disturbingly flawed but mostly celebrated mainstream concept of nuclear deterrence and his views on the viability of tactical nuclear weapons are of serious concern.  Even more terrifying was Kissinger’s support and facilitation of President Nixon’s “madman strategy” during the Vietnam War and the fourth Mideast War which incorporated veiled nuclear threats from allegedly a sometimes irrational commander-in-chief meant to intimidate Hanoi, the Arab States opposing Israel and their patrons in Moscow. This extremely dangerous and unpredictable policy could have inadvertently triggered an accidental or unintentional full scale nuclear war with the Soviet Union.  In Kissinger’s favor are some thoughtful statements and policy pronouncements that he advanced during some junctures of his long career.  In 1965 he noted that, “No one knows how governments or people will react to a nuclear explosion under conditions where both sides possess nuclear arsenals,” which obviously characterized the period of the Cold War (1945-1991) as well as our current rejuvenated Cold War II and nuclear arms race that was initiated by Presidents Bush and Obama but accelerated exponentially by President Trump.  And he did join George Schultz, William Perry, and Sam Nunn in advocating “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published on January 4, 2007. (Sources:  “Henry Kissinger Biography.” Biography.com. http://www.biography.com/political-figure/henry-kissinger and William Burr and Jeffrey P. Kimball. “Nixon, Kissinger and the Madman Strategy During the Vietnam War.” National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 517. http://www.nsarchive2.gwu.edu/nukevault/ebb517-nixon-kissinger-and-the-madman-strategy-during-Vietnam-War/ both accessed March 4, 2020.)

June 3, 1980 – President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski was awakened by his military assistant, General William Odom, around 2:30 a.m. and informed that NORAD’s computers had detected a launch of 2,200 Soviet ICBMs heading for U.S. targets.  The incident was one of many so-called “false warnings.”  When early warning radars and satellites could not verify the fictional Soviet first strike, Brzezinski determined that the attack was a false alarm.  Later it was discovered that this doomsday scare was caused by a faulty computer chip – which cost a mere 46 cents.  Comments:  Such false warnings are still possible today although technological verification is more sophisticated and supposedly more foolproof.  It is still true however that the very short response times in nuclear crises, make accidental, unintentional, or unauthorized nuclear warfare a frighteningly real possibility now and in the future.  (Source:  Eric Schlosser.  “Command and Control:  Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Incident, and the Illusion of Safety.”  New York:  Penguin Press, 2013, pp. 367-368.)

June 24, 1957Priscilla, a nuclear test blast was detonated at 700 feet altitude at Frenchman Flat in the Nevada Test Site with a magnitude estimated at 37 kilotons, two and a half times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.  The purpose of the test was to assess the impact of nuclear weapons on targeted populations as well as equipment, weapons, and shelters.  French, Swiss, and German bomb shelters performed above expectations but dozens of pigs sealed inside the doors of machine gun emplacements died horribly.  Comments:  The testing of over 2,050 nuclear bombs over the last seven and a half decades by the nine nuclear weapons states has inflicted extremely harmful short- and long-term health impacts to global populations, especially native peoples and veterans who participated in observing tests at relatively close range.  Increased cancer rates, groundwater contamination, destruction of land and ocean ecosystems and other detrimental environmental impacts still plague large numbers of people due to nuclear testing, which some irresponsible leaders like President Trump are arguing are needed again despite long-held scientific consensus that testing is not only unnecessary but destabilizing to the fragile nuclear deterrence construct.  Even more objectionable is the fact that world citizenry feel that such tests will only embolden elite leadership further into believing irrationally that nuclear conflicts are winnable as long as top leadership survive in deep underground shelters. (Sources: Thomas B. Cochran, William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, and Milton M. Hoenig. “Nuclear Weapons Databook: Volume II, Appendix B.” Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Co., 1987 and Garrett M. Graff. “Raven Rock:  The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself – While the Rest of Us Die.”  New York:  Simon & Schuster, 2017, pp. 80-81.)