65 years ago, on August 6th, 1945, a B-29 airplane called the Enola Gay dropped a nuclear bomb called "Little Boy" over a mostly-civilian city called Hiroshima.
"Little Boy" was a uranium-based nuclear weapon whose design was so simple (rumored to be like a donut on a stick) that it was untested prior to use.
Nuclear warfare had begun. Civilian populations had been intentionally irradiated.
In an instant, hundreds of thousands of people were doomed to suffer and die if they weren't "lucky" enough to be killed immediately by the blast pressure, flying debris, or the gamma-ray radiation burst. Most were not so lucky. 65 years later, they are still dying at accelerated rates compared to "normal" populations.
That type of nuclear warfare ended (for the present time) three days later, when Nagasaki was bombed with "Fat Man," a different design, similar to the test explosion, called Trinity, which occurred secretly in the New Mexico desert a few weeks earlier.
Little Boy used enriched uranium -- enriched in U-235 by utilizing its tiny difference in mass from U-238. The U-235 was separated from the U-238 via gaseous diffusion, through a series of hundreds and hundreds of huge chambers with millions of tiny holes in each one.
Fat Man used plutonium-239, which could be isolated somewhat more easily from the "spent fuel" of a nuclear reactor. The Pu-239 was separated from other elements by chemical means.
There wasn't much of either isotope, and it would have been months before another atomic bomb was ready for deployment. That was the biggest secret of all, and fooled the Japanese into surrendering six days after Nagasaki.
Both "bomb-grade" isotopes (Pu-239 and U-235) are now plentiful around the world. Used nuclear reactor fuel rods ("spent fuel") have gone missing many times over the years. Now both types of bombs can, theoretically, be built by terrorists, rogue governments, or others.
This August 6th (2010) the U.S. Ambassador to Japan is scheduled to attend the annual Hiroshima commemoration ceremony. Ambassador John V. Roos's presence will mark the first time since World War II that a U.S. envoy has visited Hiroshima on August 6th.
"FINALLY!" we might be tempted to say. But what will the American Ambassador's presence at the ceremony REALLY signify?
Apparently, it will signify that America wants to take a business-as-usual attitude towards radiation deaths. They're just more deaths, as far as American foreign policy is concerned: Tragic, but, unavoidable, like all civilian, collateral and "friendly-fire" deaths in a war. The cost of doing business, if your business is war.
Roos was described in the papers at the time of his appointment in 2009 as one of Obama's "best fundraisers" during the presidential campaign. (This was considered meager credentials in Japan.) But he WAS the CEO of an international technology law firm! His vision as Ambassador has been to promote joint business cooperation (often to the financial benefit of nuclear corporations in Japan, which own well-known "American" nuclear firms such as Westinghouse). His tenure as Ambassador flies in the face of the Japanese people's growing awareness of the environmental threats from industry -- especially the nuclear industry.
Nuclear power and nuclear weapons are linked in many ways. One is a target for the other. one produces the other. Both produce the same poisons, just on vastly different time scales.
The fear of a nuclear meltdown caused by an earthquake is so prevalent in Japan that they have a special phrase for it: Genpatsu-Shinsai. The Japanese have come close to Genpatsu-Shinsai more than once.
So have we.
If ever there was something that is "just a matter of time," Genpatsu-Shinsai is it. From bad welds they didn't know existed to worker mistakes that caused criticality events and deaths, to unknown fault lines discovered under operating reactors, Japan has seen all the warnings. And ignored them.
So have we.
And then there's the growing nuclear threat from North Korea. What are Ambassador Roos's qualifications for dealing with THAT? Most Japanese people (or at least their editorial writers) seem to feel it's not enough. Will his attendance at the Hiroshima ceremony change that?
According to a State Department spokesperson, Roos will be at the Hiroshima ceremony to "express respect for all of the victims of World War II." Thus, he will drown the radiation victims in a sea of victims of other atrocities that occurred during World War II. The spokesperson also said simply: "At this particular point, we thought it was the right thing to do." What "point" is that? The point of the Obama Administration trying to ram billions of dollars in taxpayer funding for new nukes down our throats, with large portions of the plants made in Japan? Was it The Pentagon Papers II? What's the point?
Roos's presence for the Hiroshima Day commemoration this coming Friday means that the U.S. Government needs you to just look away and say, "Oh, it's good that we finally did something to acknowledge those poor souls who died in a flash." But don't look any deeper.
Roos's attendance will perpetrate myths and hide truths.
It will perpetrate the myth that civilian deaths during war are inevitable.
It will hide the truth that most deaths from Hiroshima did not occur immediately, but later, from the radiation. These deaths would never have occurred with "conventional" weapons. These deaths are war crimes.
Ambassador Roos could release a statement saying that the use of radioactive weapons WAS a mistake, and they will never be used by the United States again. Of course he won't, but he could announce the reduction of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal by 99.9%. He won't do that either, but even with such a "drastic" reduction, the U.S. would STILL have more than a dozen nuclear bombs at its disposal. How many do we need?
He could state that radiological warfare of any sort is equal to, or worse than, chemical warfare or biological warfare, and is, and always will be, illegal. That's only stating the obvious to MOST people, but SOME people, usually called "Generals," think nuclear weapons are okay, while acknowledging that chemical and biological weapons are not.
Meanwhile, the horror of the aftermath of uranium weapons used in Fallujah and other places throughout the Middle East still falls on deaf ears. Infant deaths, as well as horrific malformations, cancers, and scores of other health effects, have all increased in frequency -- sometimes by more than an order of magnitude. We are approaching the sixth year since depleted uranium (as well as chemical weapons such as white phosphorus) were used in Fallujah.
It's the 11th year since depleted uranium was used in Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro. Before that, Bosnia, and before that, Kuwait... (and in 1985, the Israelis are believed to be the first to have used an unknown amount of depleted uranium, at sea).
Depleted uranium is depleted of U-235, but every atom that remains is still radioactive. A milligram of DU, for example, emits about a million decays (alpha particles) per day. The total amount of DU shrapnel fragments embedded in a veteran or civilian victim is often much greater than one milligram. DU is also dangerous, perhaps more so, as a heavy metal. DU dust is easily inhaled, where it can lodge in the lung or be absorbed into the body, and may or may not be excreted, secreted, or exhaled. "Flaming Pee" is a symptom of DU poisoning. And flaming ejaculate, too.
By now, America has used many millions of pounds of radiological weapons. There is an entire gun, the AN/GAU-8a 30mm Gatling Gun -- as big as a car -- which was designed and built specifically to fire depleted uranium penetrator shells as big as your forearm and 1.7 times as dense as lead. And there is an airplane built just to hold that gun, a single-seat twin-engine jet called the A-10 Warthog, built so tough it has THREE of every control system and can fly home on either turbine engine.
The Warthog normally goes out with about 1,000 rounds of depleted uranium projectiles, and can empty the entire ammo belt in under 20 seconds.
Is the use of millions of pounds of "depleted" uranium on an ongoing basis worse than the creation of a few tens of pounds of fission products in the summer of 1945?
The normal radioactive decay sequence of uranium is nearly all heavy metals, and ends in stable isotopes of lead -- after releasing more than a dozen alpha and beta particles. But most radioactive fission products have much shorter half-lives and are biologically indistinguishable from stable isotopes of useful elements.
Do you prefer a hanging or a shooting?
After the atomic bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the hot, spherical cloud had shot up into the chilly upper atmosphere at a mile a minute, leaving a mushroom-stem-shaped opaque trail of dust and a mushroom cap-shaped top cloud, a choking black radioactive rain began to fall on the stricken cities and nearby areas, covering everything and everyone underneath in radioactive soot.
For those who had survived the blast effects and immediate radiation, the misery had just begun...
Vast numbers of Hiroshima deaths which occurred after the war were ignored by the official statistical "bean counters." The United States felt it had a strong interest in minimizing the apparent dangers from nuclear weapons -- and all the data collectors were employed by, and in the service of, the United States Government. Records were improperly maintained, kept secret, and then destroyed. For years, young children who died were simply not counted. Women were afraid to become pregnant for fear of having a deformed child.... Just like in Fallujah TODAY. And TODAY, the U. S. military is doing everything it can to avoid any scientific studies of the increases in cancer, leukemia, birth defects, etc. in Fallujah. History repeats itself.
This August 6th, will Ambassador Roos denounce the horror of testing nuclear weapons, which has left thousands of square miles of wastelands: In Nevada, Mississippi, Colorado, numerous Pacific "paradise" islands, Siberia, Pakistan, India, Australia, North Korea, and dozens of other places?
Will he promise justice for the "Hibakusha" (the Japanese term for the surviving victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki)?
Will he compare nuclear weapons to nuclear power plants, and find BOTH equally horrific? Just ask the victims of Chernobyl about what a nuclear power plant can do -- but not the hundreds of thousands who have already perished (latest estimates, published by the New York Academy of Sciences, but denied by the nuclear industry).
Will Ambassador Roos lament in silence, or say a few platitudes, and then get on with business?
The author, 53, an independent researcher, cancer survivor, and educational computer software designer, has studied nuclear power and nuclear weapons issues for more than three decades. His educational graphic book on the subject, THE CODE KILLERS, is available for free download from his personal web site: www.acehoffman.org . Various educational animations about nuclear power are also available at his web site.
Note: Wikipedia -- which has undoubtedly been carefully edited by both the CIA and working members of the nuclear industry on virtually all nuclear issues -- provides a commentary in their "Little Boy" entry from Glasstone's famous / infamous government publication from the early 1960s called The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, claiming that: "At Hiroshima . . . injuries due to fallout were completely absent." Additional links in the Wikipedia article present a statistical study showing NO increase in cancer mortality among offspring of survivors of the blast. But, typically, data collection for that study wasn't even started until more than 10 years after the explosions! Other studies support the views of this author.