Co-editors: Seán Mac Mathúna • John Heathcote
Consulting editor: Themistocles Hoetis
Field Correspondent: Allen Hougland


Onwards to Armageddon !

The deep bunkers of Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, where Bush fled to on September 11th.


The Bush Administration's moves towards nuclear conflict

In the Offut Strategic Command base, near Bellevue Nebraska, a group of Pentagon officials, scientists from the nuclear weapons laboratories at Los Alamos, Sandia and Livermore, weapons contractors and spooks met for a week in early August 2003 to plot the latest developments in the USA's nuclear arsenal.

The meeting at the bunkers - which inspired the location of the Stanley Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove - was ironically due to start on the anniversary of the dropping Hiroshima bomb, and end on that of Nagasaki.

Both the B-52's (Enola Gay and Bock's Car) which dropped the bombs on Japan - still the only nuclear strikes in history - were built at the base.

The public have been denied all access, and demands by Congress to observe the meetings have been refused.

Only a month earlier, Bush abolished the nuclear oversight committee, which included various academic and scientists.

Two reports are considered to provide a guide to future nuclear policy under the Bush Administration.The first is a report by the National Institute for Public Policy, which was published in January 2001, and the second which was produced for the Bush Administration's Nuclear Posture Review. In May 2003 the US Congress approved the develpment of a new generation of nuclear weaponry in line with the reports, and it is believed the Offut meeting is to plan a strategy for development and production of these weapons.

Both reports suggested that nuclear weapons could be downsized, and developed for specific purposes, such as the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles in situ, or the targetting of enemy regimes or leaders who are ensconsed in deep bunkers. So-called mini-nukes with yields of less than five kilotons would lower the threshold for taking war to another level considerably; and even the threat of their possible use would encourage smaller states to acquire conventional nuclear deterrent weapons.

Even more frighteningly for all of us who would prefer not to see the world reduced to desert is a report in New Scientist which describes the 'gamma ray bomb', apparently top of the current Pentagon wish-list. Although not as explosively destructive as 'ordinary' nuclear weapons, one gram of the material used would contain more energy than 50kgs of TNT; and although producing relatively little radioactive fallout, it would cause long-term health problems (much like depleted uranium) to anyone ingesting the particles. The weapons are being developed at the Air Force Research Laboratory in New Mexico, and are a continuation of work originally carried out in 1999 at the University of Texas producing gamma rays from the decay of the nuclei in radioactive elements.

Concern is being raised both by US citizens and international scientists.

U.S. Army Institute of Pathology photograph - Nagasaki Museum

The damage in Nagasaki caused by the flash of heat and blast were aggravated by subsequent fires. In total, 12,900 houses were completely burned or destroyed and another 5,509 were partially burned or destroyed. The fire also increased the number of victims. Many people trapped under fallen debris had suffered only external injuries but died as the fires raged through the city. The gutted ruins of the Iwakawa-machi neighborhood About 800 meters south of the hypocenter. The lush roadside trees in this quiet residential neighborhood burned to ashes. The explosion had completely buried the road in rubble. (Photograph by Torahiko Ogawa) The devastation near Nagasaki Medical College About 600 meters east-southeast of the hypocenter. Except for a few reinforced-concrete structures, the buildings to the upper left were completely destroyed and burned. The building to the lower right is the Nagasaki Medical College Hospital.

New Scientist article / Arms Control Association / Los Alamos Study Group / decision to use the atomic bomb