Nuclear Weapons: 20 Facts They Don’t Want You to Think About

Politicians and Their Armageddon Machines

Nuclear arsenals: who wants them? — A coterie of politicians.

Why do they want them? — For the illusion of power and to feed their egos.

How do they keep them? — By fostering a culture of fear.

How do they do that? — By positing a Threatening and Unknown Future.

There are 5 primary nuclear weapons states (and four others from proliferation). The politicians of these 5 nuclear states put the future of the citizens of all the other 187 states of the UN at risk as well as their own citizens because of their insistence in keeping their nuclear arsenals.

In no case have the citizens been asked if they want these arsenals.

The reason these politicians want these Armageddon weapons is because they believe it gives them stature and power; makes them players; gets their feet under the top table. For this perceived personal benefit they are prepared to put the survival of the human race at risk.

Nuclear arsenals are the ruthless tools of power-fixated individuals.

In order to keep their arsenals, these individuals must keep the citizens in ignorance. We have a vague dread of these things and what they can do. Humanity has a residual group memory of the unspeakable suffering of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But this is very scary. We don’t want to think about it. And that suits the power junkies just fine. Ignorance is power – for the junkies – but not the citizens.

If the truth about nuclear weapons was known there would be millions demonstrating in cities round the world. The arsenals would be dismantled. (By ‘known’ is meant really known; not just an idea in our heads. Known in the way we know a loved person has died or we have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease).

The effects of nuclear explosions on people defy the imagination and our ability (and willingness) to contemplate such degrees of human suffering. But how can we make rational judgements if we do not face the nightmarish facts?

Reciting facts will not ensure the necessary degree of knowing. But it is a start – the basis for critical evaluation.

So here are 20 facts they don’t want you to think about:

1. There are at least 23,000 nuclear weapons in existence: sufficient to wipe out the entire human population of the planet many times over.

2. Of the 23,000 nuclear weapons in existence around 2,500 are on High Alert. This means they are ready to be launched at a moment’s notice.

3. The missiles delivering nuclear weapons to their target travel at faster than 1000 miles in 4 minutes.

4. The only way our armed forces have of knowing if a nuclear attack is in progress is through an electronic early warning system. This system, like all electronic systems, is subject to malfunction.

5. When the electronic warning system signals that a nuclear attack is in progress the military chiefs of staff have a matter of minutes to decide if the warning is true or false.

6. If the chiefs of staff instruct the Prime Minister/President that an attack is in progress he has a matter of minutes to decide if this information is reliable and to press the button launching a retaliatory strike.

7. Central London would be utterly destroyed by a single megaton bomb.1

8. One such bomb would, due to the blast alone, cause 98% deaths from Westminster to the City of London and from Lambeth to Marylebone.1

9. A modelled attack on Detroit2 (when the population was 1.32 million) predicted that a single 1 megaton bomb exploded above the city would cause up to 630,000 deaths and injuries from blast alone. 83% of the population would be immediately killed or injured. Many of the remaining population would die or suffer terribly from the effects of radioactive fallout.

10. One 5 megaton nuclear bomb has as much explosive power as all the explosives used in the second world war.

11. If a nuclear power station or nuclear waste disposal site were the target of a nuclear attack it has been estimated that the resulting contamination would cover an area nearly 3 times that of Wales.1

12. Survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki referred to the pain and suffering as ‘indescribable’ and ‘hell on earth’. Eventually some survivors of Hiroshima arrived in hospital elsewhere. Such was their degree of suffering that when a nurse entered the ward they screamed for her to kill them.3

13. There have been various crises since 1945 when the world came within a hair’s breadth of nuclear war. Our luck will run out. The system is held primed at all times.

14. In one crisis a single man saved the world from destruction. If Stanislav Petrov, in 1983, had told his Russian superiors that his electronic monitors were signalling a massive nuclear attack from the US, there would have been a global nuclear war. He did not tell them and the signals turned out to have been due to a malfunction.

15. A nuclear war would cause a blanket of particles in the atmosphere that would blot out the sun’s rays and result in the death of the vegetation on which life depends. This would be in addition to the death of people, animals, and plants caused by the explosive power, the radiation and the shockwaves.

16. Each of the weapons carried on the UK Trident submarine is 7 times more destructive than the Hiroshima bomb which killed 140,000. The UK Trident submarine carries 16 Trident missiles. Each missile can contain 3 No. 100 kiloton weapons. A single submarine is designed to carry over 300 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb.

17. The nuclear weapons on a single Trident submarine can destroy over 40 million people (extrapolating from Hiroshima).

18. The UK nuclear arsenal alone has the destructive power to destroy over 80% of the 195 capital cities of the world.

19. We in the UK have 4 Trident submarines; our ally, the US, has 14.

20. Trident renewal will cost the taxpayer 97 thousand million pounds yet it is totally useless in opposing any real existing threat13.

We ignored the threats from the banking system until the first banks started to collapse. Then we took emergency action.

We are behaving in the same way with the immeasurably more dangerous nuclear weapons arsenals. If we wait till the first nuclear weapons are launched no emergency action will help the millions of dead and dying. Our power-obsessed politicians will have done their irretrievable worst.

  1. Based on medact report ‘The medical consequences of nuclear weapons.’ [] [] []
  2. Medact report, p21. []
  3. See film White |Light, Black Rain by Japanese director Steven Okazaki and book Hibakusha by George Marshall and Gaynor Sekimori. []

Jim McCluskey is the author of The Nuclear Threat. Read other articles by Jim.

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  1. Rehmat said on September 29th, 2010 at 6:54pm #

    Ironically, being a nuclear power, has not helped anyone with exception of America’s use of two nuclear bombs on Japan during WW II.

    USSR was a nuclear power, but it suffered defeat at the hands of Afghan Mujahideen in the 1990s.

    Both the US and Britain are nuclear powers, but they have failed to defeat the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Israel is a nuclear power but it suffered its worst military humilation at the hands of less than 2,000 Hizbullah fighters in 2006.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/iaea-and-western-moral-bankruptcy/