Kevin Uhrich and Joe Piasecki / Ventura County Reporter – 2005-08-14 01:00:58
(August 11, 2005) — Imagine an explosion so great that its effects would be felt for decades, perhaps centuries. “When the flash went off, I dove to the ground and covered my eyes and ears, as we had been taught to do. Then a blast of wind came, and it felt like my body was floating. I saw the mushroom cloud rising up into the sky, with tremendous color and fire rising from the bottom of it,” said Jack Dairiki, a member of the National Japanese American Historical Society who, as a boy, stood three miles from the center of the blast.
Though spared physical injury, the conscripted teen-age factory worker witnessed horrors that up until then were unimaginable.
“The first thing I saw was a lady walking like a zombie, her arms outstretched. I thought her clothes were hanging off of her, but it was her burnt skin. I was in total fright,” he recalled.
The attack instantly killed between 70,000 and 130,000 people, maimed untold thousands of unsuspecting men, women and children and leveled more than half of that once thriving city in one blinding instant.
The virtual obliteration of Nagasaki sealed an Allied victory in the Pacific and drew a crystal clear line in the sand for the Soviet Union to stay away, changing the geopolitical landscape of the planet up to this day.
Since then˜after the Korean Conflict, the Cold War, Vietnam, Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan and Gulf Wars I and II˜the world has only become more dangerous than it was even then, with infinitely more powerful nuclear weapons available that are more capable than ever to wipe out entire nations. In today’s terror-filled global climate, one in which so-called “dirty” nuclear bombs, or bombs that explode but cause more destruction by the radiation they emit, can such tragedies occur again?
Without question, says global terrorism expert Richard Dekmejian, a professor of political science at the University of Southern California.
Bush’s Policies Are Speeding Up the Doomsday Clock
Referencing the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ famed doomsday clock, an icon of the nuclear age that warned how close society was to nuclear destruction, or midnight, Dekmejian warned that the war on terrorism is pushing us to the brink of global disaster.
“We are closer to midnight than ever before, at least in terms of a dirty bomb going off,” he said. “If I were the president, I’d stop all this [crap] about fighting the war on terrorism and the stupidity of getting into Iraq, and get together with the Russians and everybody else to fund massive programs to get rid of nuclear materials from the former Russian states. That’s much more dangerous than all these other forms of terrorism.”
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, explained Dekmejian, instability in that region led to nuclear materials and secrets being sold around the world, not just to fledgling powers like North Korea, but possibly to stateless terrorist groups as well.
Unlike the times of the Cold War, no threat of retaliation would dissuade these groups from using nuclear materials, as there is no single place to counterattack.
A $10 Billion Citizens Plan to Buy Russia’s Nuclear Stockpiles
Brett Wagner, President of the California Center for Strategic Studies in Ventura, couldn’t agree more. In 2001, prior to September 11, the California Center for Strategic Studies [helped] put together a $10 billion dollar deal for the US to purchase, by way of federal loan guarantees, all of Russia’s under-secured stockpiles of nuclear materials.
According to Wagner, Russia has 700 to 800 tons of highly enriched uranium and 150 to 200 tons of weapons-grade plutonium.
That original legislation was introduced with bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, but never made it all the way. Today, Wagner and the California Center are working on similar legislation, but, having learned from past mistakes, this time around everything has been simplified.
The document is about three and a half pages in length and calls for the U.S. government to simply allocate the $10 billion it would take to close the deal with Russia. Currently the legislation is being fine-tuned by Jeremy Sharp, Santa Barbara Congresswoman Lois Capps’ legislative assistant, and Wagner hopes it will be introduced sometime in September or October.
“One of the things that disappoints me the most after 9/11,” said Wagner, “is that people in Washington say, ‘We didn’t know there was a threat before 9/11.’ Yes they did. They were very well aware of the threat. Also they say, ‘Now that 9/11 has passed, we are certainly on it now, doing everything we can to secure our country.’ And that is not true.
This legislation is so important because all the blueprints, etc, to build a weapon are readily available. The only thing that is relatively difficult to get your hands on is the materials. Twenty to 25 pounds of either material [highly enriched uranium or weapons-grade plutonium] would be enough to build a bomb. And it is leaking.”
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