Nuclear weapons have never been used except for destruction. They shouldn't have been invented, but they do make pretty mushroom clouds.

They are the subject of the dreams of every Republican in existence quite a few Republicans.

Baneberry nuclear test, December 18 1970

There have been some very controversial nuclear tests, such as Operation Emery Baneberry in 1970. The containment failed and cracks formed in the ground, releasing radioactive material. Some observers were less than a few hundred yards away when this happened.

Science and invention

Operation Redwing Mohawk nuclear test

A nuclear weapon of the type used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki takes its power and "bang" from a forced splitting of the nuclei of uranium 235 or plutonium 239 atoms. One atom is split, releasing a neutron at very high speed, the atom that is hit by the neutron releases three neutrons and the number of neutrons released triples with each hit until the explosion. This is called a chain reaction, it is also called nuclear fission, and occurs naturally on a small level with radioactive isotopes (variations) of many elements. Uranium, however, when enriched so that it has a high ratio of U235 atoms to U238 ones, is the best element for large-scale nuclear fission. The by-products of nuclear fission include many other radioactive elements, and bombs can scatter them over a large area. This was successfully invented by American scientists in 1940, whereupon the US military created two. One test was done. They killed a lot of unsuspecting locals spectators. [citation needed]

Even bigger "Fusion" bombs can be created that work by fusing heavy hydrogen atoms together to make helium (a similar nuclear reaction to that which powers the sun). They require heavy hydrogen atoms of deuterium or even better tritium, and a nuclear fission bomb as a trigger to achieve the high temperature needed to fuse hydrogen atoms.

Neutron bombs or enhanced radiation weapons are nuclear bombs with a relatively large yield of penetrating neutron radiation. They are made by adding beryllium to the mix. Officially they were designed to knock out tank columns killing tank crews despite their protection by tank armour, unofficially they were capitalist bombs - kill the people but leave the buildings intact.

Dirty bombs are bombs that produce a disproportionate amount of fallout in relation to their explosion. This could be deliberate, rendering territory uninhabitable, or it could be budgetary - anyone with access to radioactive waste from a nuclear power station could easily make a dirty bomb.

RDS-1, the first Soviet nuclear test


Nuclear weapons kill people in various ways.

  1. Close to the bomb people are vapourised in extreme heat - there are shadows in the concrete at Nagasaki where people were instantly incinerated by the bomb.
  2. Further away Nuclear Bombs kill by a combination of blast effects and intense radiation
  3. Airburst bombs detonated high in the atmosphere would cause firestorms over vast areas.
  4. People who survive the initial blast and firestorm but were close enough to receive high doses of radiation from the bomb will die unpleasantly of radiation sickness.
  5. Nuclear bombs create large amounts of radioactive material "fallout" and if they explode in the atmosphere that material spreads on the wind (Underground nuclear tests are supposed to trap this material and not release it in the atmosphere). Nuclear testing has produced large amounts of radioactive fallout and spread it worldwide, this has been a contributory factor to the high cancer rates of the second half of the 20th Century - so you may already know of people who've died from Nukes they helped pay for. Conveniently for the nuclear industry we just don't know when someone dies from cancer whether that cancer was caused by atom bomb tests, radioactive emissions from nuclear power stations, radioactive emissions from the atom bomb making industry, or several other causes, some of them entirely natural.
  6. Nuclear Winter. Some years after the start of the Cold war it was worked out that there were already somany nukes that if there was a major nuclear war the amount of dust thrown into the upper atmosphere would block out enough sunlight to create a nuclear winter - a year or more without a harvest.

So if there had been a full blown nuclear war even people thousands of miles from a bomb blast would have died of famine or cancer.

Use in war


The American military and Department of Defense decided to "blow" a "hole" in their Axis enemy Japan's "morale." By annihilating two of of their cities, Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Hiroshima is more famous, because, although the bomb was weaker, it hit a more densely packed city center, and killed more people.

Cold War

That quote is slightly misleading, as the Cold War between America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was about a) who could make the most nukes and b) who would throw one at the other first? Enthralling television.

USSR: I'm gonna throw a nuke at you
USA: No, I'm gonna throw a nuke at you
Both: Oh, none of us really means it


The Nuclear powers - particularly the USA and USSR built so many nukes that they could have killed everyone several times over.

For much of the cold war the two sides operated a policy of Mutually Assured Destruction or MAD whereby if either side started to use nukes both sides would unleash their whole arsenal and make the world uninhabitable.

As both sides had people 24 hours a day watching radar screens ready to retaliate to an attack we are all lucky to have survived the cold war - one false alarm that nearly cost us the planet turned out to be migrating geese picked up on radar.

More Madder still

But that wasn't a crazy enough policy for the real nutcase Conservatives, so during the eighties Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, (two nutcases who should never have held democratic office) invested huge sums of taxpayers money on building "First Strike" weapons. These were nuclear weapons that could be used to launch a sneaky surprise attack and destroy the other sides nukes before they had time to launch them. These weapons needed missiles like Trident and Cruise that were accurate enough to land close enough to destroy Soviet missiles before they were fired.

Aside from the expense, and the immorality of launching a surprise attack that would have killed a large proportion of the human race - including many of the tax payers who were paying for these weapons, there was a practical difficulty that the obvious Russian response was to take away any safeguards on their nukes and fire if they thought they were being attacked - so MAD got that bit more likely.

Hall of shame

The following countries either have nukes or are trying to get them.

  1. USA - thousands, used to be targeted at the Communist world, now hopefully not targeted anywhere in particular. They currently possess no fewer than 5,000 nuclear warheads
  2. Russia - thousands used to be targeted at USA and allies of USA, now hopefully not targeted anywhere in particular
  3. UK - hundreds, used to be targeted at the Communist world, now hopefully not targeted anywhere in particular
  4. China - a thousand? used to be targeted at USA and allies of USA, then at Russia, now its best not to ask.
  5. France - hundreds, used to be targeted at the Communist world, Germany, so that if it was overrun by the Russians the Russians wouldn't be able to advance on into France (and because Germany has invaded them four times in the last 200 years)[1]. Now hopefully not targeted anywhere in particular
  6. India - used to be targeted at China and Pakistan, now probably just Pakistan.
  7. Pakistan - targeted at India in a regional version of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
  8. North Korea several nukes, targeted at anyone in range, especially US bases in South Korea.
  9. Israel - dozens of Nukes, enough to take out the major cities of any Islamic countries that got out of line.
  10. Iran - allegedly trying to get nukes, either as a deterrent against Israel or like North Korea to deter the US.

Hall of Fame

  1. South Africa Under President Nelson Mandela the nuclear program of the previous fascist regime was wound up.
  2. Situation vacant - available to the first genuinely left wing regime to emerge in the UK, France or A N other nuclear power

Peaceful uses

Nuclear bombs, like all technologies, are not inherently bad; they do have potential nonviolent uses.

  1. Project Orion is a theory that nuclear bombs, placed behind radiation shields, could be used to accelerate astronauts to near or at light speed. It is a very interesting idea and, one day, it might be tested
  2. Every now and then the Earth gets hit by asteroids or comets, 65 million years ago a really big one hit and killed almost all life on Earth including all the dinosaurs. According to Hollywood, a strategically placed Nuclear bomb could destroy or divert such an object and prevent a similar incident; Though some scientists reckon that there are better ways to nudge such rocks out of the way.
  3. Mass production of {radio active) glass is another way to use the bombs; when a nuclear bomb explodes in a sandy area, even when covered in water, it is so hot it can turn sand into glass

See also


  1. 1) Blucher and the Prussians at Waterloo in 1815 2) Bismark in 1870 3) The Kaiser in 1914 4) Hitler in 1940