- India Cheated
originally was: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1998-06/15/009l-061598-idx.html
now archived: http://newslibrary.krmediastream.com/cgi-bin/document/wp_auth?DBLIST=wp98&DOCNUM=31589
ASCII text local copy
Date: Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998
Subject: Atoms For Peace -- The Legacy Continues
A very good article from the Washington Post that is finally starting to examine the Atoms For Peace program of the United States and its legacy.
As the article clearly shows without the Atoms For Peace program India and Pakistan would never have been able to first start their nuclear programs. It is even more shocking that the actual fuel for India's nuclear tests came from nuclear reactors supplied under that program.
As I keep trying to point out it is very important that the media focuses on the Atoms For Peace program and the role it played in giving birth to nuclear proliferation in the first place and then going on to make it possible. If the media would bring attention to this then perhaps the general public will come to understand it as well. It is an important historical event and factor that has left a legacy that continues to endanger all humanity and whose story is still far from over.
The main thing to realize about the Atoms For Peace program is that from its beginning in 1953 it was never what it was claimed to be and behind all its hype as being for the betterment of humanity it has always had a much more sinister purpose. It was first proposed and implemented in early 1953 shortly after the U.S. had conducted the first full scale test of a hydrogen bomb and at a time when domestic and international political fallout over U.S. nuclear weapons tests were beginning to be heard and the first calls for a global test ban were being raised.
It was billed to the world as a humanitarian gesture by the United States to give the world the benefits of the atom and to show how the peaceful potential of atomic energy far out weighed the negative aspects of the atomic bombs. In point of fact it was established clearly and simply to defuse both domestic criticism and international concern over our nuclear weapons tests specifically the radioactive fallout from those weapons tests and to prevent those concerns from endangering or halting U.S. nuclear weapons development.
The Atoms For Peace program was launched with great fanfare from the holder of the Oval Office in the White House on down. It was presented to the United Nations General Assembly by the President. It was as major a White House public relations campaign as any before or since.
Giving the world's poor the clean and too cheap to meter benefits of nuclear power as well as medical isotopes food irradiation and so on surely demonstrated the benefits and necessity of continuing to explore the power of the Atom through more nuclear test explosions. We could not deprive the world's poor of the positive side of the Atom just because of nuclear weapons. Those were the bottom line rallying cries echoed and defended by the White House at every opportunity.
The more domestic politics called for an end to testing the more health concerns were raised over fallout from Nevada bomb tests raining down coast to coast the more the White House drug out the Atoms For Peace program to use to defend more testing and to try and beat its critics back in their "un-American" holes.
Research reactors were given to third world countries especially those whose poverty and under development like those of India could best serve the programs public relation's needs. Foreign scientists were brought to the U.S. and trained in the secrets of nuclear fission -- of course only its peaceful secrets!
Domestic critics were targeted in the summer of 1955 by one of the Atoms For Peace's greatest public relations coups. Standing before the nation's TV cameras waving a magic wand with a light bulb at its end the President with a stroke of it gave the signal and 2 000 miles away a nuclear reactor atop the Snake River Plain of southeastern Idaho went critical and produced electricity to light up the tiny nearby rural community of Arco Idaho heralding it as the first city ever powered by atomic energy. Once accomplished this great achievement of mankind -- the ability after 3 million years of evolution to fission uranium to boil water and generate electricity to light a few bulbs in Arco -- was used at every opportunity to call for more nuclear tests more nuclear development and to call it nearly an out right crime against humanity to call the power of the Atom bad.
Later as the international cries against testing worsened the Atoms For Peace program was given a new mission that of harnessing the power of nuclear explosions themselves to benefit mankind by blasting out new harbors building dams redirecting rivers increasing the flow of natural gas and maybe even extracting oil and gasoline from vast deposits of oil shale. The U.S. even talked and experimented in Nevada blowing craters into the desert and raining fallout downwind using 37 megatons of nuclear bombs to make a sea level canal across Panama.
International conferences were held on this new aspect of the Atoms For Peace program given the name Ploughshares -- "they shall beat their swords (this time nuclear) into ploughshares and learn war no more". We even gave other countries help with designing the special bombs to be used for such projects including directly to our supposed enemy the Soviet Union.
But at the same time of course we had to make it plain that because of the possibilities of this new peaceful use of the atom there could be no Test ban because we needed to test more device designs so we could develop a really clean bomb to use for these wonderful peaceful purposes.
The Atoms For Peace Program must share as much responsibility as anything else for getting the world from totally outlawing nuclear testing a generation ago and its legacy is still haunting us today on many many fronts. Not only did some of those we used as props for the Atoms For Peace extravaganza like India used this technology to develop the non peaceful aspects of atomic energy -- their own nuclear weapons but the environmental legacy of the Ploughshare portion has left a trail of death and destruction across much of the former Soviet Union.
They not only went out like we did as leader of the pack and test a few nuclear devices for so called peaceful uses they implemented the concept in as many ways as possible. The Russians exploded over 140 so-called peaceful nuclear explosions at sites across their nation for such purposes as digging canals damming rivers to make lakes even putting out runaway oil well fires and using them as seismic signals to geologically map Siberia. Worst of all they used scores of nuclear devices to develop their oil and gas resources and thus sent truly "hot gas" to all regions of their country and via their natural gas pipeline -- a system where much of the underground storage facilities had been blasted out by nuclear devices such as the key facility at Orenburg -- on into Western Europe.
Now in the late spring of 1998 we stand facing the legacy of the Atoms For Peace Program head on on two different fronts. First off we stand subject to a new age in the nuclear arms race where outright nuclear war looms over South Asia as a direct result of what the Atoms For Peace Program gave India and Pakistan and taught them how to make -- atomic bombs! Those of us living in the American west also face this summer the shipments of some of the highly radioactive spent fuel from the reactors passed out around the world by the Atoms For Peace Program as they are shipped from either California or the East Coast on to the INEEL facility east of ARCO for temporary storage while this nation trys to figure out what to do about a final site for this and all the other waste the Nuclear Age much of it the spawn of the Atoms For Peace program has given us.
Absent reaching a final decision on where to put and how to store that waste the area that made ARCO Idaho the first city to be lit by nuclear power and thus was the birthing site of that industry could also become both the cradle and the grave for the Atoms For Peace Program and any long term radioactive nightmares it may possess will be there to haunt us its prime victims once again.
Before we allow these shipments of Atoms For Peace waste into Idaho we should at least demand our local regional and national media tell the public its real history and let them have the rest of the story.
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