America’s biggest threat is its own N-weapons

nuclearaccident1Americans are in greater danger from accidents in our own country’s nuclear arsenal than we are from the spread of nuclear weapons to countries such as Pakistan, North Korea or Iran.

An investigative reporter named Eric Schlosser tells in a new book, Command and Control, of narrow escapes from accidental nuclear explosions, and from launching of nuclear bombs based on false alarms.  The thing about narrow escapes is that you can’t count on them happening.  After

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAIn the period from 1950 to 1968 alone, he discovered 700 “significant” nuclear accidents.  The government was uncooperative, but he was helped by whistleblowers who were worried about lax handling of dangerous weapons.

An atomic bomb without its warhead was accidentally dropped on Mars Bluff, S.C., in 1958.  A fully armed atomic bomb was dropped near Goldsboro, N.C., in 1961; there were four fail-safe switches designed to prevent the bomb from going off accidentally, and three of the four failed.

Suppose you were President of the United States and you were told that an atomic bomb had been dropped on North Carolina.  Would you stop and do nothing until you figured out what had happened, or would you assume that the nation was under attack and strike back.

The Cold War is over, but both the United States and the Russian Federation still have their nuclear missiles ready to launch, and an nuclear false alarm is just as possible now as it was then.

I don’t know which is worse—to think, as Schlosser does, that the U.S. Air Force is negligent in its handling of nuclear weapons, or to think that the current system is working as well as is humanly possible.

LINKS

A Sneak Peak at Eric Schlosser’s Terrifying New Book on Nuclear Weapons, an introductory excerpt reprinted in Mother Jones.

Eric Schlosser: If We Don’t Slash Our Nukes, ‘A Major City Is Going to Be Destroyed’, an interview of Schlosser in Mother Jones.

Eric Schlosser’s “Command and Control”, a book review by Louis Menand in the New Yorker.  (Hat tip to Jack Clontz)

Boy, they got lucky!  The incredible story of how the U.S. air force dropped a nuclear weapon on to a little girl’s playhouse in 1958 in South Carolina by Anthony Bond for The Daily Mail.

Atomic bomb nearly detonated over North Carolina in 1961 by Ed Pilkington for The Guardian.  (Another hat tip to Jack Clontz)

When We Almost Nuked Savannah: the Case of the Missing H-Bomb by Jeffrey St. Clair for Counterpunch.

20 Mishaps that Might Have Caused Nuclear War by Alan F. Phillips for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Stanislav Petrov: The Man Who Saved the World?, the story of how the good judgment of a Soviet colonel in 1983 averted a nuclear war caused by a false alarm.   We’ve been saved from accidental nuclear war many times, by good judgment of people in both the United States and the old USSR.  Good judgment is not something you can always count on.

[Added 9/29/13]

The video is taken from a larger documentary entitled Always / Never: the Quest for Nuclear Safety, Control and Survivability, produced in 2010 by Sandia National Laboratories.  The incident in which an atomic bomb nearly exploded over Goldsboro, N.C., in 1961, is recreated through computer animation.  The documentary was for internal use only and never officially made public.

Click on U.S. atom bomb detonation was averted ‘by the smallest margin of chance’ for The Guardian’s report on the video by Ed Pilkington.

 

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One Response to “America’s biggest threat is its own N-weapons”

  1. tiffany267 Says:

    Reblogged this on Tiffany's Non-Blog.

    Like

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