Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear history – the childish irresponsibility of USA military researchers

Handheld nuclear weapons? The Army was once working on them  By , August 29, 2012 If you check the Internet, you will find some discussion on the possibility of developing a handheld or shoulder-holstered nuclear weapon launcher. More recently, the discussion has centered on a so-called briefcase bomb that terrorists might be able to deliver undetected to a major U.S. city.

But I was amused recently to come across a very matter-of-fact discussion about the imminent development of a handheld nuclear launcher on a “Meet the Press” program broadcast Jan. 4, 1959. The guest that day was Gen. James M. Gavin , who had just resigned as chief of the Army Division of Research and Development. The questioner is John W. Finney  of the New York Times. (Thanks to , where I purchased an archive of these shows.)

Gen. Gavin was no crackpot. He was a highly respected military man who had served with distinction during World War II and was a leading advocate for racially integrating the armed forces.

More than anything, what this clip illustrates to me is the incredible naivety the military had about nuclear bombs in the 1950s. Remember, this was the period during which above-ground tests were contaminating wide swaths of the American West and sickening its people — something the government has belatedly, and reluctantly, admitted .

Click the link below to listen to the clip, then feel thankful the general’s predictions didn’t come true. Otherwise, U.S. troops may be training Afghan soldiers today in the use of such weapons, while hoping they don’t end up in the hands of terrorists or, in any case, that soldiers could run away faster than the fallout from such a bomb could come back to get them. Meet the Press, Jan. 4, 1959

August 30, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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