Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The folly of Trident

Nuclear weapons have no military use. They can't destroy every target, they can't be used anywhere near your own troops and their expense draws funds away from conventional forces, including personnel, equipment and technology. They are utterly worthless against terrorism and always run the risk of being detonated by accident.
Even arguments that they prevent war only apply to superpowers like America and Russia, and even then it is debatable.
Nuclear weapons have one purpose, destroying mass civilian areas. Mutually Assured Destruction was based on the principle that neither side of the cold war would launch a full scale attack as the retaliation would result in the slaughter of their own citizens in every town and city. And yet this still didn't stop military personnel from suggesting that they should go ahead and do it anyway.
Let's look at the effects of what they were contemplating:

Look at how it destroys people's lives:

Look at the devestation it creates:

The effects of an nuclear attack can be classed into four categories: Instantaneous, Near-immediate, Short term and Long term.

"The heart of a nuclear explosion reaches a temperature of several million degrees centigrade. Over a wide area the resulting heat flash literally vaporises all human tissue. At Hiroshima, within a radius of half a mile, the only remains of most of the people caught in the open were their shadows burnt into stone." CND UK
"People inside buildings or otherwise shielded will be indirectly killed by the blast and heat effects as buildings collapse and all inflammable materials burst into flames. The immediate death rate will be over 90%. Various individual fires will combine to produce a fire storm as all the oxygen is consumed. As the heat rises, air is drawn in from the periphery at or near ground level. This results in lethal, hurricane force winds as well as perpetuating the fire as the fresh oxygen is burnt. Such fire storms have also been produced by intense, large scale conventional bombing in cities such as Hamburg and Tokyo.

People in underground shelters who survive the initial heat flash will die as all the oxygen is sucked out of the atmosphere.

Outside the area of total destruction there will be a gradually increasing percentage of immediate survivors. However most of these will suffer from fatal burns, will be blinded, bleeding from glass splinters and will have suffered massive internal injuries. Many will be trapped in collapsed and burning buildings. The death rate will be higher than in a normal disaster since most emergency services will be incapable of responding due to their equipment being destroyed and staff killed. The sheer scale of the casualties would overwhelm any country's medical resources. The International Red Cross has concluded that the use of a single nuclear weapon in or near a populated area is likely to result in a humanitarian disaster that will be "difficult to address". There is currently no international plan in place to deliver humanitarian assistance to survivors in the case of a nuclear attack. Most casualties would receive at best minimal, palliative treatment. The best they could hope for would be to die in as little pain as possible." CND UK
Short Term
"Survivors will be affected within a matter of days by radioactive fall-out. The extent of the fall-out will vary according to whether the nuclear bomb detonates in the air (as at Hiroshima) or upon impact on the ground. While the former will entail more blast impact, the latter will throw up much larger quantities of radioactive debris into the atmosphere.

The effects of exposure to high levels of radioactive fall-out include hair loss, bleeding from the mouth and gums, internal bleeding and haemorrhagic diarrhoea, gangrenous ulcers, vomiting, fever, delirium and terminal coma. There is no effective treatment and death follows in a matter of days.

At lower levels of exposure, while there is an increased chance of at least short term survival, the death rate remains high. Those who do survive face many complications. Pregnant women are likely to miscarry or give birth to babies with a range of disabilities. Healing from injuries is often slow, leaving distinctive scar tissue. Damage to the immune system is probable." CND UK
Long Term
"Radiation-induced cancers will affect many, often over twenty years later. Certain cancers such as thyroid cancer in children are particularly associated with exposure to radiation. The children of those exposed to radiation are statistically more likely to be born with abnormalities and suffer from leukaemia. Because of the long period between exposure and the onset of cancer, it is difficult to attribute a particular cancer to a particular cause. The correlation is described as epidemiological, rather as the connection between smoking and lung cancer was statistically established before the medical links had been uncovered.

Nuclear weapons cause severe damage to the climate and environment on a scale incomparable to any other weapon." CND UK
The question to ask is: who are willing to use these £100,000,000,000 weapons against? Since Britain first gained access to atomic bombs in October 1952, we have been involved in the following countries and conflicts:
Korea (Korean War), Kenya (Mau Mau Uprising), Cyprus (Cyprus Emergency), Egypt (Suez Crisis), Ireland (Border Campaign), Brunei (Brunei Revolt), Indonesia and Malaysia (Indonesia-Malaysia Conflict), Oman (Dhofar Rebellion), Yemen (Aden Emergency), Argentina (Falklands War), Iraq (Gulf Wars), Serbia (Bosnian and Kosovo Wars), Afghanistan (Fourth Anglo-Afghan War), Sierra Leone (Sierra Leone Civil War) and Libya (Libyan Intervention).
Which cities should we have destroyed? Should we have slaughtered the 516,000 people who lived in Pyongyang in the early 1950s? Maybe killing the 2,991,000 people in Cairo during the Suez Crisis would have helped? Perhaps levelling Buenos Aires and its 9,920,000 inhabitants would have ended the Falklands conflict quicker? The answer is none: but then what is the point of a deterrent if it is never used?
The money that was wasted on nuclear weapons could have been spent in other aspects of the military (or on improving the lives and economy of people at home), so what was the point of them? Did Soviet Premier Konstantin Chernenko say "we launch an attack tod- wait, Britain has a 520 atomic bombs and we only have 45,000, we need to call the whole thing off!"?

And then there is the risk of accidents (and there have been lots of very close calls). Here are a few examples:
A B52 bomber and a KC-135 tacker aircraft collided over Palomares village in south east Spain. The B-52's four hydrogen bombs (each 100 times more powerful than that dropped on Hiroshima) fell from the craft. Two remained intact whilst the others leaked radiation into the surrounding farmland and coast. Despite other munitions onboard exploding, none of the atomic bombs detonated.
Nuclear weapons damage at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, 1956
A US airforce B-47 crashed into a storage facility and leaked burning fuel over 3 Mark 6 atomic bombs. Here is the comment from the official report:

"Preliminary exam by bomb disposal officer says a miracle that one Mark six with exposed detonators sheared didn't go."

This story was widely covered in the international press.
"HMS Argyll fired a torpedo by mistake during a training drill at the Devonport dockyard in Plymouth south west England, where nuclear submarines are also docked.

The incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon, during the Navy’s Flag Officer Training.

Workers were shocked to see a 2.6-meter long torpedo shoot out of the side of a ship, fly 200 meters through the air, blast a hole through a security fence and then slam into a metal storage container." Russia Today, 14th of March 2014
These stories (and the many others like them) don't tend to get discussed by the pro-war lobbyists at Westminster. Despite the effects of an accident being partly understood, it is safest to not have these weapons in our territory at all, and to encourage others to do the same.

The images we used above are pretty graphic, but they are nothing compared to what you will find with a simple google search. Nuclear weapons have no strategic value. They are a relic of the cold war and are far more trouble than they are worth. Scotland should not have these weapons. Scotland should not be threatening others with industrial slaughter.
Our military spending should be focused on the things that actually keep us safe, our military personnel and their equipment. We should look towards offering the world something positive, not violent obsenities. With independence we can rid nuclear, chemical and biological weapons from our shores and legitimately push for disarmament through our example.
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