Boasting the world's biggest nuclear arsenal, Russia's aggression towards Ukraine could spell catastrophe on a global scale, writes Dr Helen Caldicott.
“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe” ~ Albert Einstein
How right he was. Now laced with thousands of nuclear weapons, some on hair-trigger alert, with a demonic leader invading a neighbouring country and threatening to use his nuclear arsenal, planetary life is hovering on the edge of obliteration.
The U.S., as always, standing on its self-righteous dignity, is retaliating with economic sanctions and arming NATO neighbours with murderous weapons. It has rejected outright Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plea to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and to remove the missiles pointed at Russia in NATO countries that were liberated from the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War after Secretary of State James Baker promised that the U.S. would not enlarge NATO one inch to the east.
‘People exposed within half a mile of the Little Boy fireball, that is, were seared to bundles of smoking black char in a fraction of a second as their internal organs boiled away. The small black bundles now stuck to the streets and bridges and sidewalks of Hiroshima numbered in the thousands.’
Knowing man’s propensity to fight, why in God’s name did the U.S. Government and Soviet Union authorise the brilliant scientists and weapons makers to construct thousands of nuclear weapons during and after the Cold War, culminating in more than 70,000 nuclear weapons during the '70s and '80s?
About 40 per cent of all U.S. scientists, engineers and technical professionals are engaged in weapons construction and design. And currently, Russia has 6,255 nuclear weapons, the U.S. has 5,550 and China, 350.
I am a physician, so let me describe the medical effects of a single bomb dropping on a city, be it New York or Boston. A Russian 20-megaton bomb would enter at 20 times the speed of sound exploding with the heat of the sun, digging a hole three-quarters of a mile (1.27 kilometres) wide and 88 feet (26.8 metres) deep, converting all buildings, people and earth shot up into the air as a mushroom cloud.
Twenty miles (32.2 kilometres) from the epicentre, all humans would be killed or lethally injured, some converted to charcoal statues. Winds of 500 mph (804 km/h) turn people into missiles travelling at 100 mph (161 km/h). A massive conflagration would follow covering 300 square miles (776.9 km2) and the fires would coalesce across the nation.
As cities burn across the world, a massive cloud of toxic black smoke will elevate into the stratosphere blocking out the sun for ten years inducing a short ice age nuclear winter when all humans and most plants and animals will perish.
But the war in Ukraine is more than dangerous, hosting Chernobyl which contaminated 40 per cent of the European land mass with radioactive isotopes, together with 15 nuclear reactors and which could suffer meltdowns during wartime activities, causing unbelievable injury and death to people across Europe.
And a plant with six reactors was recently under attack.
God help us all.
- HELEN CALDICOTT: Time to learn lessons of the past on nuclear
- 75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the arms race isn't over
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