Remember The Days When The US Used Nuclear Weapons Against Americans?


If you tend to curl up in terror when confronted by the evil that is militarism and nationalism, you may want to skip this post. See also: [stderr]

Richard Rhodes has written a number of really good books on nuclear weapons history, including a fairly optimistic one called The Twilight of The Bombs [amazn]. There is also an excellent documentary (hard to find) by the Long Now Foundation, entitled the same (UPC: 885444842245) It starts off with an art movie by Isao Hashimoto:

There are various test-ban treaties, which the US (and probably Russia) is almost certainly violating, or planning to violate. Meanwhile, the US will scream about North Korea’s tiny arsenal, or Iran’s potential tiny arsenal. One of the clever hacks the US has come up with is declaring that it is not making “new” nuclear weapons – it is just “remanufacturing” old ones. And, in the process, equipping them with newer detonators that allow them to be targeted much more precisely – which means that the US arsenal is capable of destroying more stuff with the same number of warheads (no need to plan for “overkill” on hard targets) which means that, effectively, the US arsenal just got twice as powerful without getting larger.

Think about that – the US is screaming about Iran maybe violating an agreement not to enrich uranium, while simultaneously making it much more likely that it will use nuclear weapons because they’re more accurate and deadly, and violating the spirit, if not the letter, of arms limitation treaties. The US has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty so there’s a question whether the US is obligated to obey it or not. Got that? The North Koreans properly withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 before they re-ignited their nuclear weapons program. Test treaties appear to be a whole lot of “do as I say not as I do” from the nuclear superpowers.

Some idiot once said in my presence, “nobody wins a nuclear war.” To which I replied, “ask a Japanese.”

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One think you can conclude from the video is that the US Government really hates the west coast of the US. ‘Cuz they nuked the living shit out of it.

How do you “remanufacture” a nuclear weapon? Simple: you make a new one then you call it the old one and break the old one down for spare parts. The US military has been using this trick in a lot of ways – unlike the US Airforce and US Navy that publicly and foolishly started “Our new submarine!” or “F-35!” programs, the US Army has undergone a process of versioning and refinement on the M-1 Abrams tank, to the point where it bears only an external resemblance to the 1970s M-1 tank – but they still call it the M-1, so they haven’t spent any money on a new tank. I’m still driving the car I bought in college – naturally, I have replaced every part of it a dozen or so times over, but it’s still the same car. That old car looked like a Ford Maverick (I know, I know..) and now it looks like a Honda CRV but, you know, “upgrades.”

Comments

  1. DonDueed says

    I note that the video covers only up to 1998. Also, there are no tests shown for either Israel or South Africa, both of which are believed to have (and to have tested) nuclear weapons (or at least to have had them at some time).

    The other surprise was how many different sites were used for tests by the Soviet Union / Russia. The territory of the USSR is peppered with tests.

  2. says

    DonDueed@#1:
    I note that the video covers only up to 1998. Also, there are no tests shown for either Israel or South Africa, both of which are believed to have (and to have tested) nuclear weapons (or at least to have had them at some time).

    Yes, it’s a bit optimistic. And it needs updating.

    Israel and South Africa are an interesting case. I am one of the people who believes that the Vela Incident [wik] was Israel testing its first thermonuclear device. According to Rhodes and other sources, South Africa built 7 warheads of a gun/plug type like the one dropped on Hiroshima, but never assembled or tested them. Rhodes’ claim is that the South African government realized that they were going to fall, and did not want nuclear weapons to fall into the hands of black people. (That’s some kind of hard-to-parse horribleness, right there)

    The other surprise was how many different sites were used for tests by the Soviet Union / Russia.

    Yeah, that surprised me too. There’s one moment when it makes a loud BZZZZT as Kazakhstan lights up. The Soviets nuked the shit out of Kazakhstan.

    While I was researching this, I wondered if Google maps censored the Nevada test site. It doesn’t.
    https://goo.gl/maps/JwU8cKi2aKK2

    There’s something really wrong with nationalists. I mean, really, seriously, deeply wrong.

    Google Maps’ satellite imagery of Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan is really crappy. I wonder why nobody’s flown a satellite over that, yet. Odd.
    https://goo.gl/maps/PikHwFKXysR2

    You can zoom right in on the Nevada test site and see that the US isn’t doing anything there, anymore. I wonder if that pool of water is for drilling slurry.

  3. cvoinescu says

    I wondered if Google maps censored the Nevada test site. It doesn’t.

    There’s a small but visible difference in color between the test site area (an irregular polygon) and its surroundings.

    This is not in itself unusual — Google Maps is clearly made of a patchwork of images, and interesting areas get updated more often. Imagery that does not match the surroundings (taken in a different season, for example) is simply pasted over the old stuff, and they don’t bother much with matching colors, and sometimes not even with accurate alignment.

    Still, it could mean that the image is more recent than the surroundings, because Google felt it needed updating to show recent activity; or it could mean the opposite, that they’re still using an older image to avoid showing recent activity.

    I assume, perhaps optimistically, that, if the image was doctored in other ways, they’d do it carefully enough not to look like an obvious patch. Although I can see how the technician responsible for updating the map with the more correct images from the government might intentionally screw the color balance or alignment just a little, as a “there’s nothing to see here and the image has not been altered, scroll along” wink to connoisseurs.

  4. says

    cvoinescu@#4:
    Still, it could mean that the image is more recent than the surroundings, because Google felt it needed updating to show recent activity; or it could mean the opposite, that they’re still using an older image to avoid showing recent activity.

    Yes, they do that. When I was searching for the US “secret” air base in northern Syria, if you recall, I found a 4 mile zone that was not in season with the rest of the map. Just a coincidence.

  5. Raucous Indignation says

    “Google Maps’ satellite imagery of Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan is really crappy. I wonder why nobody’s flown a satellite over that, yet. Odd.”

    That made me laugh out loud!

  6. says

    I think the video was featured on Pharyngula a few years back. It was awfully depressing then, and it is awfully depressing now.

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