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Many near accidents in nuclear weapons

Viewpoint: Too many nuclear close calls https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/opinion/viewpoint/viewpoint-too-many-nuclear-close-calls/article_a3e7b9ff-9dd5-5f6c-938a-08633a6bb9d2.html, By Wanda L. Mangus, Aug 4, 2018

      The Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition opposes the use of nuclear weapons. Any use would have catastrophic consequences everywhere in the world, destroying large cities, killing millions and leaving large areas of contamination for hundreds of years. In an article dated Jan. 16, 2018, Pope Francis states that he fears we are on the brink of nuclear war.

The current world threat exchanges have increased our fears.

The UN Office of Disarmament Affairs states that nuclear weapons have only been used twice, once in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and again three days later on Aug. 9 in Nagasaki, Japan. 350,000 persons were killed in Hiroshima, and 210,000 were killed in Nagasaki, with at least 200,000 vaporized. More than 250,000 persons died later from radiation poisoning.

Irish politician and journalist Eamonn McCann states that based on detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the surviving Japanese leaders involved, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped.

The Union of Concerned Scientists notes there have been many close calls with nuclear weapons. On Nov. 9, 1979, computers at the North American Aerospace Defense headquarters indicated a large scale missile attack was underway. NORAD relayed the info to high-level command posts. Top leaders met to assess the threat. Everyone concerned went on high alert. Bomber crews boarded their planes. Six minutes later satellite data failed to confirm any incoming missiles. It was later discovered that a technician had mistakenly inserted a tape containing a training exercise into an operational NORAD computer simulating a full-scale attack.

On Sept. 26, 1983, a Soviet early-warning satellite indicated one, then two, and then five nuclear missile launches. The Soviet Union had earlier mistakenly downed a South Korean passenger plane. The officer on duty, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, had very little time to respond. However, he deemed the readings a false alarm, thinking that “when people start a war, they don’t start it with only five missiles.” Later investigations mistook sunlight reflecting off the clouds for missile launches. Petrov’s actions earned him the nickname “the man who saved the world.”

On Jan. 25, 1995, a Russian radar detected an unexpected missile launch off the coast of Norway. The missile’s characteristics seemed similar to that of a U.S. submarine-launched missile. This lead radar operators to believe the missile might detonate a nuclear warhead, blinding Russian radars before a larger attack. Russian nuclear forces went on full alert. Retaliation was avoided when Russian early-warning satellites failed to find activity around US missile silos.

Many more have been described. These close calls shouldn’t happen. As long as we have such weapons that are capable of killing millions of persons, along with the rise of authoritarian leaders, there is the possibility of a country’s retaliation or human error allowing a nuclear bomb explosion.

The Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition rejects any new development of nuclear weapons. We reject any testing other than that needed to determine the safety of existing warheads currently in stock until they can be dismantled. We hope that President Donald Trump and our U.S. diplomats will successively negotiate especially with North Korea and Iran to achieve the peaceful and total disarmament of those countries.

It is dangerous and hypocritical for the U.S. to maintain a nuclear weapons stockpile while insisting that the rest of the world disarm. We demand that the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, stop refurbishing our nuclear warheads and resume dismantling them. We and our government must accept responsibility for its serious contamination of the earth and water by cleaning up all waste from nuclear weapons development facilities.

Nuclear weapons should not even be a consideration in the world we live in. Our country could be destroyed as well as any other country. We should lead the world in nuclear disarmament. As we approach the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we ask the community to remember all the dead of World War II by joining us Monday in our weekly vigil on the corner of Main and Jefferson streets in South Bend from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Wanda L. Mangus is a member of the Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition.

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August 6, 2018 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety, weapons and war

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