Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

A reflection on Nagasaki, as great powers increase their nuclear weapons

Ground Zero Nagasaki: Living the nuclear past – and future, Asia Times, By SUSAN SOUTHARD JANUARY 18, 2019  “………. Much of Nagasaki and the world have, of course, moved on from that terrible morning when a 5-ton plutonium bomb plunged at a thousand kilometers an hour toward the city of 240,000 people. Forty-three seconds later, it detonated half a kilometer above Nagasaki’s Urakami Valley. A super-brilliant blue-white flash lit the sky, followed by a thunderous explosion equal to the power of 21,000 tons of TNT. The entire city convulsed

Based on my book Nagasaki: Life after Nuclear War, I often give talks in the US about that unforgettable (or now often-too-forgettable) day when, for only the second time in history, human beings deemed it right to assault their own species with apocalyptic power. At these book talks, I’ve learned to be prepared for someone in the audience to say that the Japanese deserved what they got. It’s still hard to hear.

At its “burst point,” the Nagasaki blast reached temperatures higher than at the center of the sun, and the velocity of its shock wave exceeded the speed of sound. Within three seconds, the ground below had reached an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius. Directly beneath the bomb, infrared heat rays instantly carbonized human and animal flesh and vaporized internal organs. Did the men, women, and children of Nagasaki really deserve that?

As the mushroom cloud rapidly ascended 3km over the city and eclipsed the sun, the bomb’s vertical blast pressure crushed much of the Urakami Valley. Horizontal blast winds tore through the region at two and a half times the speed of a Category 5 hurricane, pulverizing buildings, trees, animals, and thousands of people.

The blazing heat twisted iron, disintegrated vegetation, ignited clothing, and melted human skin. Fires broke out across the city, burning thousands of civilians alive.

And though no one knew it yet, larger doses of radiation than any human had ever received penetrated deeply into the bodies of people and animals.

…………. the United States bombed and incinerated all or parts of 66 Japanese cities, killing, maiming or irradiating more than 668,000 civilians. In Nagasaki alone, by the end of 1945 when a first count was possible, 74,000 men, women and children were dead. Of those, only 150 were military personnel. Seventy-five thousand more civilians were injured or irradiated.

Today, this kind of indiscriminate killing and harm to civilians would be called “terrorism.”

Despite the history most Americans have learned – that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were military necessities that ended World War II and saved a million American lives by obviating the need for an invasion of Japan’s home islands – there is no historical evidence that the Nagasaki bombing had any impact on Japan’s decision to surrender.

What we aren’t taught are the political and military complexities of the last few months of the war or how, in the postwar years, the US government crafted this end-of-war narrative to silence public opposition to the atomic bombings and build support for America’s fast-expanding nuclear-weapons program.

What many don’t realize is that this misleading version of history allows us to turn away from what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and continue to support the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons without ever having to think about what those weapons do.

Still, so many decades later, in a world in which the Trump administration is preparing to withdraw from a key Cold War nuclear agreement with Russia and the US nuclear arsenal is being modernized to the tune of up to $1.6 trillion, it’s worth recalling the other side of the story, the kind of suffering the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings caused in August 1945 and long after.

Within weeks, people in both cities began experiencing mysterious symptoms: vomiting, fever, dizziness, bleeding gums, and hair loss from what doctors would later understand as radiation-related sickness. Purple spots appeared all over their bodies. Many died in excruciating pain within a week of the first appearance of such symptoms. Fear gripped Nagasaki. From one day to the next, no one knew when his or her time might come.

In those first nine months, pregnant women suffered spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, or the deaths of their newborn infants. Many of the babies who survived would later develop physical and mental disabilities.

Five years after the bombings, thousands more began dying from leukemia and other illnesses caused by high-dose radiation exposure, initiating cycles of higher than normal cancer rates that would last for decades. The bombs had, from the survivors’ perspective, burned their bodies from the inside out. Parents exposed to radiation feared possible genetic defects in their children and hovered over them year after year, terrified that what looked like a simple cold or stomach ache would lead to severe illness or death.

Even today, radiation scientists are still studying second- and third-generation hibakusha (atomic-bomb-affected people) for genetic effects passed down from their parents and grandparents, reminding us how much we still don’t understand about the insidious nature of radiation exposure to the human body…….. http://www.atimes.com/ground-zero-nagasaki-living-the-nuclear-past-and-future/

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January 19, 2019 - Posted by | General News

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