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July 12, 2008

Nuke-Armed Paranoids


by Gordon Prather

Emigré scientists – many of them Jews who had fled Europe to avoid persecution under the Nazi regime – were principal instigators of the United States nuclear-fission weapons program known as the Manhattan Project.

In particular, in 1939, a group of Hungarian-born physicists – including Leo Szilard, Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner – persuaded Nobel Prize winning Physicist Albert Einstein to write President Roosevelt, bringing to his attention the possibility that recent scientific discoveries in Germany could result in "extremely powerful bombs of a new type."

Roosevelt was interested enough to meet several times with Einstein’s emissaries – Einstein, himself, spoke very little English – who convinced FDR that if we did not develop such bombs before the Nazis did, they would "blow us up."

Then, as a result of the Japanese attack on our blockade fleet, moored at Pearl Harbor – which Roosevelt provoked by imposing an oil blockade on Japan – Hitler, Japan’s ally, declared war on us on December 11, 1941.

The Manhattan Project initially focused on a Uranium-235 fission bomb. But the original process for separating the Uranium-235 isotope from natural uranium – the Electromagnetic Isotope Separation (EMIS) process, the same process employed by the Iraqis in the late 1980s – reportedly took 18 months to produce the 120 pounds or so needed for the Little Boy, the bomb we dropped on Hiroshima.

Hiroshima?

But the impetus for the Manhattan Project – instigated by the European émigré scientists – was to get nukes before Hitler did. Why bomb Japan?

Well, there were several reasons.

For one thing, the war in Europe had essentially been won by the Soviet Union at Kursk, in the summer of 1943.

For another, by late1944, most of the European émigré scientists – as a result of contacts with their former colleagues – had concluded that the German nuclear program had not gone well, and that Hitler had concluded that it could not (even if successful) contribute to winning his war.

Furthermore, it soon became apparent that both the Uranium-235 gun-type bomb – Little Boy – and the Plutonium-239 implosion-type bomb – Fat Man – would be so heavy they could only be delivered by specially modified B-29 bombers, all of which were in the Pacific.

So, as soon as it became known within the Manhattan Project that the bomb would be used against the Japanese and not the Nazis, more than a few scientists left the project and some – notably instigator Leo Szilard – even began to oppose it, as a "terrible mistake."

Why? Well, as General Leslie Groves, Director of the Manhattan Project, noted "The Japanese haven’t harmed the Jews, and Szilard couldn’t give a crap about potential losses in an invasion of Japan."

Adolph Hitler committed suicide in Berlin on April 29, 1945.

The Plutonium-239 implosion-device was tested at Trinity Site in New Mexico on July 16, 1945.

We dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and the Fat Man on Nagasaki on August 9, thereby "obliterating them," as Hillary Clinton would say.

Now, fast forward to June 7, 1981.

On that date, the Israelis "took out" Osiraq, a small French-built research reactor, "safeguarded" by the International Atomic Energy Agency, apparently because they had concluded that Saddam Hussein expected Osiraq – in lieu of the Tooth Fairy – to miraculously leave a few nuclear weapons under Saddam’s pillow.

According to an official Israeli statement;

"The atomic bombs which that reactor was capable of producing – whether from enriched uranium or from plutonium – would be of the Hiroshima size. Thus a mortal danger to the people of Israel progressively arose."

Now, since 1991, thanks to the IAEA, the whole world has known that Saddam began his quest for nuclear weapons as a direct result of the Israeli raid on his IAEA Safeguarded research reactor.

And, since for many months now, virtually every U.S. politician – including all Presidential "hopefuls" – have declared, as did Hillary Clinton at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee hoo-hah last year, that "we cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons," and that "in dealing with this threat," no option [including the use of nuclear weapons on its IAEA Safeguarded facilities] can be taken off the table."

Why not?

Well, according to Hillary;

"To deny the Holocaust places Iran's leadership in company with the most despicable bigots and historical revisionists."

Then, there’s Bush, repeatedly also refusing to take the option of the use of nuclear weapons against Iran "off the table." Quoth Bush;

"I think anyone who advocates wiping out an entire race of people has to be insane. The president of Iran has advocated for this more times than I could count. Hitler was not sane either and he wanted to do the same thing to the same people, just by different methods."

Consequently, here we are, perhaps on the eve of the Israelis attempting to "take out" – with the almost explicit support of Bush-Cheney and The Best Congress AIPAC Can Buy – all the IAEA Safeguarded facilities in Iran.

So, it’s perhaps worthwhile revisiting UN Security Council Resolution 487 condemning the Israeli unprovoked attack back in 1981 on the Iraqi IAEA-safeguarded facility.

"Fully aware of the fact that Iraq has been a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons since it came into force in 1970, that, in accordance with that treaty, Iraq has accepted IAEA safeguards on all its nuclear activities, and that the agency has testified that these safeguards have been satisfactorily applied to date;

"Strongly condemns the military attack by Israel – in clear violation of tehe Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct;

"Calls upon Israel to refrain in the future from any such acts or threats thereof;

"Further considers that the said attack constitutes a serious threat to the entire IAEA safeguards regime, which is the foundation of the non-proliferation treaty."

Of course, last time about all the Israelis had going for them was that Saddam Hussein was then fully engaged in the unprovoked war of aggression he had launched against the Iranian Mullahs.

But this time! Well, they’re finally going to get to nuke "Hitler." Leo and some of his fellow émigrés would be pleased.


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Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

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