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Last class! The Cost and Legacy of the Atomic Age Financial cost Environmental cost Bomb victims? Secrecy/Vigilance? Was it all worth it? Stained class.

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Presentation on theme: "Last class! The Cost and Legacy of the Atomic Age Financial cost Environmental cost Bomb victims? Secrecy/Vigilance? Was it all worth it? Stained class."— Presentation transcript:

1 last class! The Cost and Legacy of the Atomic Age Financial cost Environmental cost Bomb victims? Secrecy/Vigilance? Was it all worth it? Stained class window in memorial chapel, SAC headquarters

2 last class! How Much Did the Atomic Age Cost? Money –US went all out to build nuclear weapons. Idea was that this was purchasing peace on the cheap. “I solemnly say to you that the cost of a single atom bomb will become less than the cost of a single tank…I propose that we make our best and cheapest weapon – the atomic weapon – the real backbone of our peace power.” (Sen. Brien McMahon, 1951 speech) –By 2002, the cost of America’s atomic arsenal? $5,000,000,000,000 (more than cost of World War II)

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4 Did You Get Your Money’s Worth? Cost of nuclear testing in 1985 (16 tests) = $825 million Cost of testing in 1995 (0) tests = $410 million Number of nuclear warheads requested by the Army in 1956 and 1957 = 151,000 Total number of U.S.-built warheads = 70,000 Number of nuclear bombers built = 4,000 Number of nuclear missiles built since 1951 = 67,500 Total land occupied by DoD and DoE weapons installations = 15,564 square miles Total land area of New Jersey, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia = 15,357 square miles Number of tests conducted in Nevada = 935 Number of tests in the Pacific = 826 Volume in cubic meters of radioactive waste resulting from weapons activities: 104,000,000

5 last class! Fissile material produced: 104 tons of plutonium and 994 tons of highly-enriched uranium. Number of Pacific Islands still contaminated = 826 Number of dismantled plutonium "pits" stored in Amarillo, Texas: 12,067 (as of May 6, 1999) Number of Pacific islands completely vaporized = 1 Number of ‘Broken Arrows’ i.e. US nuclear bombs lost in accidents and never recovered = 11 Cost of the nuclear-powered aircraft program = $7 billion Number of hangars built for nuclear airplanes = 1 Number of nuclear airplanes built = 0 Currency stored in Culpepper, VA to be used after a nuclear war = more than $2 trillion Number of secret facilities built for presidential use after WW3 = 75

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8 Victims of Testing Total number of nuclear tests done since 1945? –2046 Who were the victims? –Residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki –Workers in uranium mines and nuclear production facilities –Armed forces exposed to tests on purpose –People downwind from tests –Human experiment subjects –World citizens harmed by fallout and terrorized by having weapons aimed at them

9 last class! A soldier uses a broom to remove radioactive dust following test blast in Nevada

10 last class! Conclusion of 1998 report from Brookings Institute? –More U.S. citizens were harmed by the weapons supposed to protect them than were the people against whom the weapons were actually targeted.

11 last class! Environmental Damage The US nuclear infrastructure was huge…Contamination and environmental damage at these sites within the U.S. and abroad is expensive, dangerous, and long term project –About $500 billion est. Storing high-level nuclear waste is a problem still without a solution.

12 last class! People

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14 Secrecy and Vigilance Nuclear weapons information is “born secret” Minimum number of pages still classified by Energy Department = 280 million pages Cost of personnel security clearance system more than $2 billion.

15 last class! View of “Looking Glass,” SAC’s airborne command post in flight 24 hours a day from 1961-1990.

16 last class! Was it all worth it? Did nuclear weapons keep the peace during the Cold War? –Why is this an important question? –Differing viewpoints John Lewis Gaddis Deborah Welch Larson

17 last class! George W. Bush: –“Today’s Russia is not our enemy.” (May 1, 2001) Number of warheads (tactical and strategic) in US stockpile –10,729 total; about 7,000 ready for use. –Number targeted at Russia? About 2600 Worldwide – about 20,000 The Recent Situation

18 last class! Evidence? The current SIOP SIOP = Single Integrated Operational Plan….the American plan for general nuclear war. Current SIOP still requires hundreds of weapons alert and trained on Russian targets at all times. 100’s of more targets ID’ed in N. Korea, Iran, China More info – Visit website of the Natural Resources Defense Council (

19 last class! Final Thoughts George W. Bush; March 13, 2002 –“I view our nuclear arsenal as a deterrent, as a way to say to people that would harm America, don’t do it. That’s a deterrent, that there’s a consequence. And the President must have all options available to make that deterrent have meaning.”

20 last class! The Devil speaking in Don Juan in Hell, Act III of Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw, 1902. –“I have examined Man's wonderful inventions…In the arts of death he outdoes Nature herself…there is nothing in Man's industrial machinery but his greed and sloth: his heart is in his weapons.”

21 last class! A sign of hope…? Workers at Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, disassembling a B61 gravity bomb by separating it into its major subcomponents. The bomb's warhead is in the section directly behind the nose.

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23 One Example – Broken Arrows Eighty days after if fell into the ocean following the January 1966 collision between a nuclear-armed B-52 bomber and refueling tanker over Spain, this B28RI nuclear bomb was recovered from 2,850 feet of water.

24 last class! As a result of the accident, tons of radioactive soil was excavated, packed in 55-gallon drums, and sent to the United States for disposal. Here, the barrels are being loaded and prepared for shipment.

25 last class! Hans Bethe –“If we fight a war and win it with H- bombs, what history will remember is not the ideals we were fighting for but the methods we used to accomplish them.”

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