Nuclear Weapons

The legacy of nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific

The most powerful nuclear device detonated by the US, Castle Bravo was a thermonuclear hydrogen bomb and its larger than expected fallout over the Marshall Islands forced their evacuation.

The most powerful nuclear device detonated by the US, Castle Bravo was a thermonuclear hydrogen bomb and its larger than expected fallout over the Marshall Islands forced their evacuation.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to ban nuclear explosions and finally end US testing has a number of merits. Ratification by the Senate would help contribute to preventing nuclear-armed states from perfecting newer and more deadly nuclear bombs and show America’s commitment to being a leading in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons to new states. All of this is in the best interest of American security.

But there’s also the human and environmental side of the story. People living downwind from the Nevada Test Site in Utah were exposed to radioactive fallout as a result of US nuclear weapons testing. This recent series in Newsday reminds us of the incredible damage done to the Rongelap people in the Pacific and their islands as a result of America’s arms race. It covers the controversial treatment of people exposed to hydrogen bomb testing in the Pacific and serves as another reminder of the terrible consequences of using a nuclear weapon, whether in war or in tests.

The northern part of Rongelap – one of a string of tiny islands spread across the vastness of the southern Pacific Ocean – was left so radioactive from the 67 American nuclear bomb tests that ended in the late 1950s that it still remains a forbidden zone….

For many Marshallese, history has not turned a page. They see themselves as nuclear refugees who endured exposure to radiation so that the United States could test its nuclear bombs. Many residents and officials say they are deeply worried about cancer rates.

You can read the whole story online here, which also has links to the rest of the series and an online video documentary.

1 reply »

  1. and don’t forget there were 3 people working at Los Alamos who gave their lives preventing reactions to go critical, and that Carter in the Navy helped cleanup a Canadian reactor metldown and in the 50’s there was the release of a radiaoactive cloud froma a reactor in Great Britain that floated over Europe not to mention the city in France once unknowingly fed LSD by the CIA… it is called live testing these days… testing to see if anyone lives…