Glasstone's errors in The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, and the strategic implication for deterrence. Realistic effects and credible nuclear weapon capabilities for deterring or stopping aggressive invasions and attacks which could escalate into major conventional or nuclear wars.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Department of Defense, Effects Manual EM-1

Secrecy of nuclear weapons capabilities: new information about updates to EM-1, Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons

We've blogged (in the 2006 Glasstone and Dolan post) about all of the history and technical details of the various updates to this manual to the present time. It started out in July 1951 as Capabilities of Atomic Weapons, TM 23-200, edited by Dr Gerald W. Johnson (Chief of the Analysis Branch, U.S. Armed Forces Special Weapons Project), and was a secret quantitative supplement to the more qualitative 1950 unclassified Effects of Atomic Weapons. Some 1,079 copies of each edition were published, and it was regularly updated with page changes as new information from testing became available. For example, the November 1957 edition includes an analysis of the effect of the blast wave "precursor" caused by desert sand popcorning into hot dust due to the thermal radiation flash on sandy soil, and also a brief mention of EMP effects on electronic equipment. Neither of these topics were even mentioned in the unclassified Effects of Nuclear Weapons until April 1962. In November 1964, the secret manual was revised and retitled Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, and the Scientific Advisory Group on Effects (SAGE) was formed to edit revisions to the manual.

Above: SAGE Panel in August, 1966.

Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons originally started out as the 162 pages long 1945 classified Handbook on the Capabilities of Atomic Weapons, AD511880 (PDF version located here):

“The purpose of this handbook is to set forth, in a concise and simple manner, criteria for estimating the effects of atomic weapons for use by the Services. It is designed to serve as a handy reference to aid Field Commanders and their staffs in determining the capabilities and effects of atomic weapons in respect to specific targets. The scope of this handbook includes thermal and nuclear radiation and blast effects of atomic weapons on items of military interest such as structures, materiel and personnel. These effects are analyzed with respect to Air, Surface, Underground, and Underwater Bursts. Sufficient information is presented to allow Field Commanders to determine the best type of Weapon and Burst to be employed to obtain maximum desired effects on various types of targets.”

TM 23-200, Capabilities of Atomic Weapons, November 1957, was a single volume consisting of 441 pages in 12 sections divided into 2 parts (it has only about a quarter as many pages as Dolan’s 1651 pages long 2-volume 1972 revision DNA-EM-1):

Contents of Capabilities of Atomic Weapons, U.S. Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, Washington, D.C., technical manual TM 23-200, November 1957, Confidential (declassified in 1997)

Preliminary pages (22 pages consisting of title pages, distribution list, contents pages, page locator for physical phenomena figures and tables, and foreword)

Part 1: Physical Phenomena

Section 1: Introduction (13 pages)
Section 2: Blast and Shock Phenomena (95 pages)
Section 3: Thermal Radiation Phenomena (19 pages)
Section 4: Nuclear Radiation Phenomena (87 pages)

Part 2: Damage Criteria

Section 5: Introduction (21 pages)
Section 6: Personnel Casualties (20 pages)
Section 7: Damage to Structures (54 pages)
Section 8: Damage to Naval Equipment (15 pages)
Section 9: Damage to Aircraft (11 pages)
Section 10: Damage to Military Field Equipment (23 pages)
Section 11: Forest Stands (15 pages)
Section 12: Miscellaneous Radiation Damage Criteria (10 pages)

Appendix 1: Supplementary Blast Data (32 pages)
Appendix 2: Useful Relationships (10 pages)
Appendix 3: Glossary (7 pages)
Appendix 4: Bibliography (9 pages)

Page 4 of this bibliography cites the report: J. F. Canu and P. J. Dolan, Prediction of Neutron-Induced Activity in Soils, AFSWP-518, June 1957, Secret – Restricted Data.

It has a Foreword on page xxii by Edward N. Parker (Rear Admiral, USN), Chief, Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, stating:

'The purpose of this manual is to provide the military Services with a compendium of the phenomena manifested by the detonation of nuclear weapons and the effects thereof in terms of damage to targets of military interest.

'This edition of Capabilities of Atomic Weapons represents the continuing effort by the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project to make available the progressively improved data resulting from field testing, scaled tests, laboratory and theoretical analyses.

'... Every effort has been made to include the best available data which will assist the using Services in meeting their particular operational requirements. As additional or better data becomes available it will be incorporated herein.'

Concerning the early history of EMP as a damaging effect of nuclear weapons, a very brief and but pertinent discussion of EMP effects from low altitude and surface bursts occurs in the November 1957 edition of the Confidential (classified) U.S. Department of Defense, Armed Forces Special Weapons Project manual TM 23-200, Capabilities of Atomic Weapons, section 12, Miscellaneous Radiation Damage Criteria, page 12-2, paragraph 12.2c:

'Electromagnetic Radiation. A large electrical signal is produced by a nuclear weapon detonation. The signal consists of a rather sharp transient signal with a strong frequency component in the neighborhood of 15 kilocycles. Field strengths greater than 1 volt per metre have been detected from megaton yield weapons at a distance of about 2,000 miles. Electronic equipment which responds to rapid, short duration transients can be expected to be actuated by pickup of this electrical noise.'

'In November 1964, DASA (Defence Atomic Support Agency) consolidated nuclear effects knowledge in the classified publication, Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons. A revised edition was published in 1968. These publications preceded the two-volume Effects Manual-1 (EM-1), first published in 1972. ... Integrating Knowledge: In 1972, DNA published a two-volume nuclear weapons effects manual called Effects Manual-1 (EM-1). Two years later, DNA issued a NATO-releasable [less classified] version of EM-1. These volumes provided critical planning information for unified and specified CINCs, civilian civil defense activities, and NATO officials.'

- pages 16 and 19 of the colourful booklet, Defense Soecial Weapons Agency, 50th Anniversary 1947-1997. For a 466 page review published by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in 2002, see AD-A412977 (35.3 Mb).

All civil defence planning is either directly or indirectly (via Glasstone and Dolan Effects of Nuclear Weapons 1977) based on Dolan's Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons. The latest official American civil defence manual, for example, cites directly the secret 1988 revision of 'DNA EM-1 (Effects Manual 1), Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, Chapter 10, July 1, 1972'; 'NATIONAL PLANNING SCENARIOS: Created for Use in National, Federal, State, and Local Homeland Security Preparedness Activities, Version 21.2 DRAFT, February 2006'.

There is a definite need to debunk general Planet of the Apes style nuclear effects exaggeration hype by politicans which simultaneously:

(1) encourages misguided nuclear proliferation (rogue states, dictators and terrorists think that simply having a nuclear threat will get them anything they want by intimidation, due to the exaggeration in the popular media) and

(2) discourages simple civil defense countermeasures from being taken seriously. If you're in the crater region, you don't need civil defense, but as we've seen, even the crater sizes have been grossly exaggerated in the public domain. The "overkill" areas are trivial compared to the areas over which even the simplest informed civil defense countermeasures like duck and cover and getting out of the immediate downwind area (or under cover there) before the wind blows fallout there, is effective at saving lives.

Why exaggerating the effects of aerial bombardment caused World War II

The tragedy of the exaggeration of the offensive capabilities of aerial attack was plain to see during the 1930s. Public opinion was on British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's side (appeasing Hitler) because the effects of war had been exaggerated in 1938 by the British War Office: aerial bombing was (inaccurately) predicted to cause 121 casualties/ton, and the German air force was expected (for no reason other than doom mongering, it seems) to deliver its maximum capacity of 600 tons of chemical incendiary, gas and explosive bombs daily on Britain, killing 2.2 million people per month.

Chamberlain and the British public were scared by these false "predictions" which were based on the WWI unopposed attacks in daylight and had no relevance for inaccurate nighttime bombing when enemy bombers were subject to AA and fighter defenses.

In World War II a total of 71.27 kilotons (in average units of 175 kg of explosive, according to the British Home Office) of bombs, V1 cruise missiles and V2 supersonic ballistic missiles hit Britain, killing 60,595 and injuring 86,182, a casualty rate of 2 casualties/ton, 60 times fewer than the prediction based on World War I data!

If Chamberlain and - more important - the general public had known the true civilian threat in 1938 from aerial attack instead of the hysterical exaggerations officially promoted, then Hitler might have been stopped or effectively deterred earlier on, with less cost in human lives. Exaggerating the effects of war and "discrediting" civil defense countermeasures using lying propaganda merely gave Germany years longer to prepare for war, which made the situation worse than it would otherwise have been if action had been taken before world war was inevitable.

Dolan's 2-part secret revision was published in 1972 with 17 chapters which fitted into two loose-leaf binders, and a 22 chapter secret update under the editorship of Brode was published in 1991 (consisting of 22 separate volumes). In 1993, this final unwieldy revision was summarised as a set of the basic equations for predicting effects and issued in September 1996 as the 736 pages long Handbook of Nuclear Weapon Effects: Calculational Tools Abstracted from DSWA's Effects Manual One (EM-1) edited by John A. Northrop, and published by the Defense Special Weapons Agency.

Above: John Northrop's 736 pages long Handbook of Nuclear Weapon Effects: Calculational Tools Abstracted from DSWA's Effects Manual One (EM-1) in September 1996 briefly summarized the formulas from the multi-thousand pages long 22-volume Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, DNA-EM-1, while in July 2001 the 535 pages long first edition of Charles Bridgman's Introduction to the Physics of Nuclear Weapons Effects summarized the physics behind the formulae in Northrop's book.

Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, DNA-EM-1
Philip J. Dolan (Editor), Stanford Research Institute
July 1, 1972
Change 1: July 1, 1978
Change 2: August 1, 1981

Declassified on 13 February 1989.

Part 1. Phenomenology.
PDF download of Part 1, preliminary pages and contents pages, Change 2, August 1981 (45 pages, 1.6 MB) These pages are also available here.

Chapter 1. Introduction. 30 pages.
Chapter 2. Blast and Shock Phenomena. 306 pages. Blast wave section is here and ground shock/cratering/water bursts/underwater bursts section is here.
Chapter 3. Thermal Radiation Phenomena. 114 pages.
Chapter 4. X-Ray Radiation Phenomena. 30 pages.
Chapter 5. Nuclear Radiation Phenomena. 151 pages.
Chapter 6. Transient-Radiation Effects on Electronics (TREE) Phenomena. 16 pages.
Chapter 7. Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Phenomena. 40 Pages.
Chapter 8. Phenomena Affecting Electromagnetic Propagation. 94 pages.

Part 2. Damage Criteria.
PDF download of Part 2, preliminary pages and contents pages, Change 2, August 1981 (50 pages, 1.7 MB)

Chapter 9. Introduction to Damage Criteria. 187 Pages.
Chapter 10. Personnel Casualties. 38 Pages.
Chapter 11. Damage to Structures. 50 Pages.
Chapter 12. Mechanical Damage Distances for Surface Ships and Submarines Subjected to Nuclear Explosions. 147 Pages.
Chapter 13. Damage to Aircraft. 81 Pages.
Chapter 14. Damage to Military Field Equipment. 46 Pages.
Chapter 15. Damage to Forest Stands. 64 Pages.
Chapter 16. Damage to Missiles. 121 Pages.
Chapter 17. Radio Frequency Signal Degradation Relevant to Communications and Radar Systems. 32 pages.
Appendices A-F. 112 pages.

Dolan's Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Department of Defense manual EM-1 (1651 pages in two parts, 'Phenomenology' and 'Damage Criteria'; both originally loose-leaf binders to allow page updates) is the massive and complete 'Secret-Restricted Data' classified nuclear weapons effects compendium source used to write the relatively brief and less detailed unclassified book, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons. The problem with the latter is that it omits vital nuclear effects data for civil defence, which we will review below. Now Dolan's massive secret compilation of nuclear test facts and computer simulation results is going online as PDF files. One example of something blanked-out in DNA-EM-1 is the graph showing predicted EMP electric field strengths at the earth's surface from high altitude nuclear detonations of various yields and altitudes, but that graph occurs in another declassified document as explained in a post on high altitude EMP effects, There is also a supplement showing effects of nuclear weapons in arctic conditions, linked here. Some additional declassified details from DNA-EM-1 can be found on pages 164 and 168 of the 1998 Sandia National Laboratory Survey of Weapons Development and Technology, report WR-708. E.g., severe tank damage occurs at a peak overpressure of 49 psi, immediate radiation casualties at 8,000 rads, and the x-ray and nuclear radiation effects from an exoatmospheric burst in the vacuum of space (above about 100 km) can be represented by:

X-ray exposure (cal/cm2) = 5.97*106Wkt/Rm2 (this corresponds to 75% of the explosion energy in x-rays),

Peak gamma dose rate (rads/sec) = 5.37*1015Wkt/Rm2, and

Neutron fluence (neutrons/cm2) = 2.29*1018Wkt/Rm2.

Above: as a multimedia supplement to the Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, this excellent originally secret U.S. Defense Nuclear Agency film, High-Altitude Nuclear Weapons Effects: Part One, Phenomenology (20 minutes) discusses in detail, using nuclear test film clips, the effects of 1962 high altitude nuclear tests BLUEGILL, KINGFISH, and STARFISH. It is mainly concerned with fireball expansion, rise, striation along the Earth's natural magnetic field lines, and air ionization effects on radio and radar communications, but it also includes a section at the end explaining the high altitude EMP damage mechanism.

BLUEGILL (410 kt, 48 km detonation altitude, 26 October 1962) fireball was still fully ionized at a temperature of about 10,000 K and 'several kilometres in diameter' when the shock wave departed from the fireball at 0.1 second. The fireball expanded to 10 km in diameter at 5 seconds, at which time it was buoyantly rising at 300 m/sec. It was filmed from below and within a minute transforms while rising into a torus or doughnut shape. It attained a diameter of 40 km at 1 minute, and stabilised at an altitude of 100 km a few minutes later.

KINGFISH (410 kt, 95 km detonation altitude, 1 November 1962) initially had a fireball size is 10 times bigger than BLUEGILL, because of the lower air density at the higher detonation altitude. The KINGFISH fireball rises ballistically (not buoyantly) at 1,500 m/sec (which is 5 times faster than the buoyant rise speed of the lower altitude detonation BLUEGILL). The fireball diameter longways is 300 km at 1 minute, and it is elongated along the natural geomagnetic field lines while expanding. It reaches a maximum altitude of 1,000 km in 7.5 minutes before falling back to 150-200 km (it falls back along the magnetic field lines, not a simple vertical fall). The settled debris has a diameter of 300 km and a thickness of 30 km, emitting beta and gamma radiation which ionize the air in the D-layer, forming a ‘beta patch’. Photographs of beta radiation aurora from the fireball are included in the film: beta particles spiral along the Earth's magnetic field lines and shuttle along the field lines from pole to pole. The film above has a speeded-up film showing the development of the magnetically striated fireball from the KINGFISH fireball.

STARFISH (1.4 Mt, 400 km detonation altitude, 9 July 1962) according to the Nuclear Effects Group at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston, for detonations above 200 km altitude, the “expanding debris compresses the geomagnetic field lines because the expansion velocity is greater than the Alfven speed at these altitudes. The debris energy is transferred to air ions in the resulting region of tightly compressed magnetic field lines. Subsequently the ions, charge-exchanged neutrals, beta-particles, etc., escape up and down the field lines. Those particles directed downwards are deposited in patches at altitudes depending on their mean free paths. These particles move along the magnetic field lines, and so the patches are not found directly above ground zero. Uncharged radiation (gamma-rays, neutrons and X-rays) is deposited in layers which are centered directly under the detonation point. The STARFISH event (1.4 megatons at 400 km) was in this altitude regime. Detonations at thousands of kilometres altitude are contained purely magnetically. Expansion is at less than the local Alfven speed, and so energy is radiated as hydromagnetic waves. Patch depositions are again aligned with the field lines.”

When STARFISH was detonated: “The large amount of energy released at such a high altitude by the detonation caused widespread auroras throughout the Pacific area, lasting in some cases as long as 15 minutes; these were observed on both sides of the equator. In Honolulu an overcast, nighttime sky was turned into day for 6 minutes (New York Times, 10 July 1962). Observers on Kwajalein 1,400 nautical miles (about 2,600 km) west reported a spectacular display lasting at least 7 minutes. At Johnston Island all major visible phenomena had disappeared by 7 minutes except for a faint red glow. The earth's magnetic field [measured at Johnston] also was observed to respond to the burst. ... On 13 July, 4 days after the shot, the U.K. satellite, Ariel, was unable to generate sufficient electricity to function properly. From then until early September things among the satellite designers and sponsors were ‘along the lines of the old Saturday matinee one-reeler’ as the solar panels on several other satellites began to lose their ability to generate power (reference: The Artificial Radiation Belt, Defense Atomic Support Agency, 4 October 1962, report DASA-1327, page 2). The STARFISH detonation had generated large quantities of electrons that were trapped in the earth's magnetic field; the trapped electrons were damaging the solar cells that generated the power in the panels.” (Defense Nuclear Agency report DNA-6040F, AD-A136820, pp. 229-30.)

Above: as a multimedia supplement to the Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, this excellent originally secret U.S. Defense Nuclear Agency film, High-Altitude Nuclear Weapons Effects: Part Two, Systems Interference (16 minutes), discusses the interference to radio and radar signals by high altitude nuclear detonations.

What could happen when Iran gets the U-235, and maybe gets some lithium and heavy water to make lithium deuteride to get a H-bomb (it's now known than lithium-6 deuteride isn't necessary; the 11-Mt Castle-Romeo nuclear test used only natural lithium and was a great success)? It may be just like Munich and Iran will be appeased through fear of a nuclear war, due to lying exaggerations hyped in the media just like the prediction of 2.2 million casualties per month from Nazi air raids.

Update: the nuclear weapons proliferation exaggerated threat is already causing Britain to appease Iran and take no notice of violation of human rights, according to Martin Fletcher's front page story in The Times newspaper, 24 September 2009.

Britain is appeasing Iran, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi says
by Martin Fletcher
The Times online, September 24, 2009

The only Iranian to win the Nobel Peace Prize accused Britain of ignoring the regime’s savage suppression of opposition in order to safeguard talks on its nuclear programme.

Shirin Ebadi, the human rights lawyer, said that her worst fears were confirmed when she saw the British Ambassador at President Ahmadinejad’s inauguration.

“That’s when I felt that human rights were being neglected,” she told The Times. “I’m very sorry to say the West cares more about its own security than human rights. I think they’re wrong . . . Undemocratic countries are more dangerous than a nuclear bomb. It’s undemocratic countries that jeopardise international peace.”

Dr Ebadi said that sanctions should have been imposed on the Iranian regime over the alleged theft of the election and the subsequence killing, beating and imprisoning of opponents. She has called for the downgrading of Western embassies, the withdrawal of ambassadors and the freezing of the assets of Iran’s leaders.

Dr Ebadi plans to go home in two months, daring the regime to arrest the first Muslim woman to win a Nobel prize. In 2000 she spent three weeks in solitary confinement after lodging a complaint against Tehran’s police chief for a lethal attack on pro-democracy students.

If not imprisoned, she will fight to secure justice for the families of those killed in the crackdown — a trail that could lead all the way to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. She has been approached by the mother of Neda Soltan, the student whose death made her an icon of the opposition.

Dr Ebadi said that she was enraged by the crimes that the regime had perpetrated in the name of Islam, but that ordinary Iranians were united as never before, with women at the fore, and that they would not forgive or forget the regime’s crimes. “The opposition has gained unstoppable momentum,” she said. “The people have reached a point of no return. I am sure they will be victorious, but when? The fall of the Berlin Wall was totally predictable but no one could say when.”

Before 9/11, Weinberger was quizzed by skeptical critics on BBC News Talking Point on Friday, 4 May, 2001, Caspar Weinberger quizzed on new US Star Wars ABM plans:

It is like saying we don't like chemical warfare - we don't like gas attacks - so we are going to give up and promise not to have any defences ever against them and that of course would mean then we are perfectly safe. ...

‘The ... idea that you are somehow endangering people by having a defence strikes me almost as absurd as saying you endanger people by having a gas mask in a gas attack. ...

‘Now if you tell an aggressive nation that [chemical or nuclear weapons are] the one system of weapons that is never going to be defended against - what are they going to do? They are going to make every effort to get that kind of system of weapons. That is what is happening ...’

Update: Google have now digitized in quality freely downloadable PDF format (and also in much poorer quality online-viewer format) a 377 pages long unclassified 1965 U.S. National Academy of Sciences nuclear weapons effects compendium, Proceedings of the symposium on protective structures for civilian populations. (This begins with Dr Brode's review of nuclear weapon effects.) Other relevant Google free downloads in PDF format can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and the 15 September 1961 issue of Life magazine with President Kennedy's famous letter on civil defense against fallout can be found here.

Above: Life magazine (Kennedy's civil defense issue) makes it clear that in the absence of an all-out nuclear war, survival means having not just the ability to hit back, but also having civil defence so that the other side is unable to cause excessive intimidation with their nuclear stockpile; any cold war has a winner and a loser. As detailed in the Glasstone and Dolan post earlier, the refusal to be intimidated held back the Soviet Union long enough for it to collapse.

Marshall of the Soviet Union Vasiliy D. Sokolovsk, Military Strategy (Ministry of Defense of the USSR, 1969): ‘A war will end lawfully [i.e. in accordance with the presumed ‘laws’ of Marxism-Leninism for the evolution of society] with the victory of the progressive Communist social and economic system over the reactionary capitalist system, which is historically destined to go under.’

Marshal Nikolai V. Ogarkov, Chief of the Soviet General Staff, 1979 (the year the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan): ‘The Soviet Union has superiority over the United States. Henceforth it will be the United States who will be threatened. It had better get used to it.’

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn interviewed in the Wall Street Journal, 23 June 1983: ‘There are two Soviet Unions. The people - millions of them - dream of an end to wars, to armaments. The government, to the contrary, does not contemplate that idea even for a minute. It does, of course, want the WEST to disarm. But not one item of Soviet military equipment will ever be given up. ... It is normal to be afraid of nuclear weapons. I would condemn no one for that. But the generation now coming out of Western schools is unable to distinguish good from evil. Even those words are unacceptable. This results in impaired thinking ability. Isaac Newton, for example, would never have been taken in by communism! These young people will soon look back on photographs of their own demonstrations and cry. But it will be too late. I say to them: You are protesting nuclear arms. But are you prepared to try to defend your homeland with NON-nuclear arms? No: These young people are unprepared for ANY kind of struggle.’

Tens of millions died in World War II because of the 1930s efforts to negotiate with totalitarians through a false fear of war due to the quantitative exaggeration of the effects of aerial attack, and a widespread belief that peace could be guaranteed by exaggerating the effects of war into a dogmatic religion of pseudo-science, which would brainwash humanity into avoiding war. This lying only encouraged the proliferation of weapons to the despotic dictatorships which wanted to have the threat of such weapons in order to achieve political intimidation, ‘peaceful invasions’ and genocide without opposition. See, for example, the article:

INTERNATIONAL PHYSICIANS FOR THE PREVENTION OF NUCLEAR WAR: MESSIAHS OF THE NUCLEAR AGE?’, The Lancet (British medical journal), 18 November 1988, pp.1185-6, by Jane M. Orient, MD.

Leaders of the Nobel Peace Prize winning group International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) claim that their struggle against the nuclear threat may be ‘one of the significant contributions of our profession to the survival of humankind’ (Lown, B., ‘Looking back, seeing ahead’, Lancet, 1988; ii: 203-4). Citing their ‘unique knowledge and expertise’ as qualifications for working for the abolition of nuclear weapons, IPPNW urges physicians to educate the public about nuclear war and to offer sound prescriptions for nuclear war prevention (Lown, B., ‘Looking back, seeing ahead’, Lancet, 1988; ii: 203-4).

In science, good intentions and noble sentiments do not exempt one's work from critical scrutiny. Because the advocacy of IPPNW is cloaked in scientific authority, it should be (but rarely is) subjected to the usual rigors of scientific criticism.

IPPNW has indeed played a major role in educating the public about nuclear war, and consequently in gaining widespread acceptance of fallacious beliefs, some of which are repeated in the Lancet (Lown, B., ‘Looking back, seeing ahead’, Lancet, 1988; ii: 203-4). For example, Lown speaks of nuclear winter as a “discovery” rather than as a hypothesis. IPPNW has pointedly ignored the criticism (Penner, J. E., ‘Uncertainties in the smoke source term for “nuclear winter” studies’, Nature, 1986; 324: 222-226; Seitz, R., ‘Siberian fire as “nuclear winter” guide’, Nature, 1986; 323: 116-117; Seitz, R., ‘In from the cold: “nuclear winter” melts down’, National Interest, 1986; 2(1): 3-17; Chester, C. V., et al., ‘A preliminary review of the TTAPS nuclear winter scenario’, Oak Ridge, TN: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 1984, report ORNL/TM-9223) of the original nuclear winter report, as well as the later, more sophisticated studies that have debunked the doomsday scenario ...

In referring to the Chernobyl disaster, Lown (Lown, B., ‘Looking back, seeing ahead’, Lancet, 1988; ii: 203-4) states that the odds of a meltdown were estimated to be 1 in 10,000 years, according to Soviet Life. (A mere meltdown would have been a trivial event in comparison with the graphite-fueled fire that actually occurred.) Yet American engineers recognized the danger of reactors with a positive void coefficient (like the Chernobyl reactor) as early as 1950 (Teller, E., ‘Better a shield than a sword: perspectives on defense and technology’, New York: Free Press, 1987). Why did the Soviets choose an unsafe design for a reactor built quite recently? One possible explanation is that such reactors can be refueled while in operation, permitting the production of weapons-grade plutonium as a byproduct (Cohen, B. L., ‘The nuclear reactor accident at Chernobyl, USSR’, Am. J. Phys, 1987; 55: 1076-1083).

The assertion that civil defense might ‘foster illusions but would not mitigate any of the dreadful consequences’ (Lown, B., ‘Looking back, seeing ahead’, Lancet, 1988; ii: 203-4) is in conflict with the data. ... citing the experience of the Hamburg firestorm of 1943 as ‘proof’ of the futility of shelters (Ervin F. R., et al., ‘Human and ecologic effects in Massachusetts of an assumed thermonuclear attack on the United States’, New England Journal of Medicine, 1962; 266: 1127-1137; Leaf A., ‘New perspectives on the medical consequences of nuclear war’, New England Journal of Medicine, 1986; 315: 905-912; Geiger, H. J., ‘Illusion of survival’, in: Adams, A. and Cullen, S., eds., ‘The final epidemic: physicians and scientists on nuclear war’, Chicago: Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science, 1981: 173-181; Leaning, J., ‘Star Wars revives civil defense’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 1987; vol 43(4): 42-46), even though 85% of the population in the firestorm area survived, including most persons who were in minimally adequate bomb shelters (U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, No. 154: Public Air Raid Shelters in Germany; Earp, Kathleen A., ‘Deaths from Fire in Large Scale Air Attack – with Special Reference to the Hamburg Fire Storm’, Whitehall, U. K. Home Office Scientific Advisory Branch, Report CD/SA 28, April 1953, discussed in summary here and in detail here, but ignored by Brode).

... history is apparently not among the areas of expertise claimed by IPPNW. Its spokesmen have yet to comment on the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 (for which Kellogg and Briand received the Nobel Peace Prize), the Oxford Peace Resolution of 1934, the Munich Agreement of 1938, or the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, and on the effectiveness of these measures in preventing World War II. ...

Sir Norman Angell (also a Nobel Peace Prize winner), in his 1910 best-seller entitled The Great Illusion, showed that war had become so terrible and expensive as to be unthinkable. The concept of ‘destruction before detonation’ was not discovered by Victor Sidel (Sidel, V. W., ‘Destruction before detonation: the impact of the arms race on health and health care’, Lancet 1985; ii: 1287-1289), but was previously enunciated by Neville Chamberlain, who warned his Cabinet about the heavy bills for armaments: ‘even the present Programmes were placing a heavy strain upon our resources’ (Minutes of the British Cabinet meeting, February 3, 1937: quoted in Fuchser, L. W., ‘Neville Chamberlain and Appeasement: a Study in the Politics of History’, Norton, New York, 1982). ...

Psychic numbing, denial, and ‘missile envy’ (Caldicott, H., ‘Missile envy: the arms race and nuclear war’, New York: William Morrow, 1984) are some of the diagnoses applied by IPPNW members to those who differ with them. However, for the threats facing the world, IPPNW does not entertain a differential diagnosis, nor admit the slightest doubt about the efficacy of their prescription, if only the world will follow it. So certain are they of their ability to save us from war that these physicians seem willing to bet the lives of millions who might be saved by defensive measures if a nuclear attack is ever launched.

Is this an omnipotence fantasy?

"Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group.[1] During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group." - Wikipedia.

Ultimately the nuclear weapons civil defence policy is driven by prejudice, not by scientific facts. Making the facts widely available in a clear format of relevance to the nuclear threats actually existing today (as opposed to the effects of a hypothetical all out nuclear war between communism and capitalism three or four decades ago, before arms reductions began) would help.

Upate: there is an article by Zbigniew Jaworowski of Poland's Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection, "Radiation Hormesis - A Remedy for Fear" in BELLE Newsletter, pp. 14-20, Vol. 15, No. 2, May 2009. The long-term effects of radiation were reviewed in detail on the earlier post, linked here. (For a video introduction to this topic, see the presentation by Dr Gary Sanquist, Low-Level Radiation: Is It Good for You?)

See also: Bernard L. Cohen, Ph.D., "The Linear No-Threshold Theory of Radiation Carcinogenesis Should Be Rejected", published in Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Volume 13, Number 3, Fall 2008, pp. 70-76, linked here. There is an audio file of a talk by him linked here. One issue I have with his papers is that he doesn't lucidly go into the scientific details of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki threshold dose cover up by the RERF and the radium dial painters threshold dose cover-up.

Update on 19 October 2009: PhD research student Melissa Smith of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester, has just had published a vital new scholarly paper on the role of the British Home Office Scientific Advisory Branch nuclear test research programme in shaping the 'Protect and Survive' advice (one fragment of which was actually published as a paper in the little read 1965 U.S. National Academy of Sciences civil defense compendium, Proceedings of the symposium on protective structures for civilian populations, giving experimental data on the 1.25 MeV mean gamma Co-60 radiation protection factors for emergency 'core shelters' inside typical British homes):

Melissa Smith, 'Architects of Armageddon: the Home Office Scientific Advisers' Branch and civil defence in Britain, 1945–68', British Journal for the History of Science (published by Cambridge University Press), 8 October 2009.


'In 1948, in response to the perceived threat of atomic war, the British government embarked on a new civil defence programme. By the mid-1950s, secret government reports were already warning that this programme would be completely inadequate to deal with a nuclear attack. The government responded to these warnings by cutting civil defence spending, while issuing apparently absurd pamphlets advising the public on how they could protect themselves from nuclear attack. Historians have thus far sought to explain this response with reference to high-level decisions taken by policymakers, and have tended to dismiss civil defence advice as mere propaganda. This paper challenges this interpretation by considering the little-known role of the Home Office Scientific Advisers' Branch, a group of experts whose scientific and technical knowledge informed both civil defence policy and advice to the public. It explores both their advisory and research work, demonstrating their role in shaping civil defence policy and showing that detailed research programmes lay behind the much-mocked government civil defence pamphlets of the 1950s and 1960s.'

This paper is an expanded version of the essay awarded the Singer Prize of the British Society for the History of Science for 2008:
Ms Melissa Smith wins 2008 Singer Prize

The BSHS Singer Prize judging panel has selected the essay entitled "Architects of Armageddon: Scientific advisers and civil defence in Britain, 1945-68" by Ms Melissa Smith (CHSTM, University of Manchester), as the winner of the 2008 Singer Prize. The judges were impressed by the flair and ambition of the essay, by its critical engagement with the existing literature on post-war British science and government, and by its extensive use of primary archival sources. They found the essay original, well written, engaging and informative.

We have also blogged about this research. As previously explained, the government should have published nuclear weapons effects research based on nuclear test data in order to substantiate the scientific basis for civil defense. Hiding the factual scientific evidence for public civil defense advice behind a solid wall of secrecy is a guaranteed way to allow the advice to be falsely ridiculed and ignored by ignorant 'scientists' with a political agenda, thereby maximising the scale of tragedy in the event that civil defense is needed in a disaster. Allowing the popular media to wrongly discredit civil defence also increases the risk of war by encouraging dictators and terrorists to spend money trying to get hold of weapons of mass destruction in the belief that there is no effective defense against such weapons. It's vital to publish the facts!

Reduction of countermeasure and civil defense chapter contents of the Effects of Nuclear Weapons in successive editions

The key pages from the U.S. Government's 456 pages long September 1950 edition of The Effects of Atomic Weapons are linked here (82.7 MB PDF file download). Notice that it contains extensive data on the underwater BAKER test base surge and also rainout radiation patterns not to mention detailed predictions of shore innundations by the water waves created, pertinent to the effects of radiation and water waves from a terrorist shallow underwater nuclear detonation below the waterline inside a ship in a harbor or off the coast of city, which is excluded from all further editions, and it also contains two chapters dealing with civil defense countermeasures: Chapter X, Decontamination, and Chapter XII, Protection of Personnel. The next edition was the June 1957 Effects of Nuclear Weapons, key pages of which are linked here (90.8 MB download), which only contains one civil defense chapter: Chapter XII, Protective Measures (although it also contains good civil defense countermeasures in some other chapters, for example pages 318-322 which describe the 1953 Nevada nuclear tests on ignition and the conclusions for civil defense). The problem with reducing the association of nuclear weapon test effects data and civil defense countermeasures is that the latter will not be taken seriously by the public (in fact they will be ridiculed by the media and ignored by the public) without proper justification, i.e., proof that nuclear weapons tests have been done to validate the civil defense countermeasures.

Above: film of the Effects of Nuclear Weapons, beginning by debunking the radiation myths of Hiroshima. The 1977 edition of the Effects of Nuclear Weapons book, by Glasstone and Dolan, gives further data showing that there is evidence for "threshold" doses below which no negative effects occur:

"From the earlier studies of radiation-induced mutations, made with fruitflies [by Nobel Laureate Hermann J. Muller and other geneticists who worked on plants, who falsely hyped their insect and plant data as valid for mammals like humans during the June 1957 U.S. Congressional Hearings on fallout effects], it appeared that the number (or frequency) of mutations in a given population ... is proportional to the total dose ... More recent experiments with mice, however, have shown that these conclusions need to be revised, at least for mammals. [Mammals are biologically closer to humans, in respect to DNA repair mechanisms, than short-lived insects whose life cycles are too small to have forced the evolutionary development of advanced DNA repair mechanisms, unlike mammals that need to survive for decades before reproducing.] When exposed to X-rays or gamma rays, the mutation frequency in these animals has been found to be dependent on the exposure (or dose) rate ...

"At an exposure rate of 0.009 roentgen per minute [0.54 R/hour], the total mutation frequency in female mice is indistinguishable from the spontaneous frequency. [Emphasis added.] There thus seems to be an exposure-rate threshold below which radiation-induced mutations are absent ... with adult female mice ... a delay of at least seven weeks between exposure to a substantial dose of radiation, either neutrons or gamma rays, and conception causes the mutation frequency in the offspring to drop almost to zero. ... recovery in the female members of the population would bring about a substantial reduction in the 'load' of mutations in subsequent generations."

- Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 3rd ed., 1977, pp. 611-3.

Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons_Part I -

Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons_Part II -

Above: Samuel T. Cohen invented the neutron bomb in 1958 by scaling down to very low yield the design of the REDWING-NAVAJO 5% fission, 95% fusion 'clean' nuclear test at Bikini Atoll in 1956. Cohen personally recruited his school friend, the famous strategist Herman Kahn, to the RAND Corporation. They realized in the 1950s that appearing reasonable or 'sane' will encourage fanatical terrorists. To deal with gun-carrying thugs, the police must descend to their level and likewise carry guns; they will be at a fatal disadvantage otherwise. 'Sanely' ignoring or steering clear of insane thugs will only encourage them; this is the 'sane' policy which pacifist nations tried with Hitler throughout the 30s. But if you want peace in an insane world, you may counter-intuitively need to build up 'insane' stockpiles of armaments or 'insanely' go out looking for trouble with power crazed dictators. Only by behaving in a threateningly violent way towards them can you ever hope to intimidate them into understanding that they must stop what they are doing and focus on improvement. Allowing Hitler the freedom to terrorise and massacre Jewish children and invalids seemed 'sane' to the 'honorable pacifist' 30s politician, but in retrospect we can see it would have been far safer for all concerned and far more humanitarian if the civilized world had gone a little more insane with him as soon as his inhuman activities began in 1933 or so, and displayed some anger and threatened credibly some violence in order to stop such abuses instead of appeasing and encouraging inhumane dictatorships.

On 29 September 1982, Elliott Abrams, the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in the U.S. Government, gave the following brilliant address to the Chicago World Affairs Council:

'It was primarily two things that saved us from the danger of nuclear war which we faced in the 1950s. The first was the development in the mid-1950s of an intellectual understanding of deterrence: that what deters nuclear war is not simply more weapons but a protected strategic force that can strike back even if it is attacked first. Such a force removes the temptation to strike first. It is vital to realize that the development of the theory of deterrence was the most important act of arms control in the postwar era; more important than any negotiation or treaty we have engaged in. The second thing that kept nuclear annihilation at a distance was the development of new weapons that were shaped by this theory of deterrence. ... The missile silo ... able to last out a first strike and retaliate; The ballistic missile submarine, which was more invulnerable because it was hidden in the depths of the sea; and the spy satellite, which for the first time gave an accurate accounting of the other side's strategic forces, thus reducing uncertainty and nervousness. Arms control agreements like SALT 1 (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, number 1) would not have been possible without this weapon, because they would have been wholly impossible to verify.

'These facts constitute a genuine paradox: that the moral result of avoiding nuclear war was achieved through certain weapons. I believe we must face this paradox squarely ... We face an appalling danger in nuclear war and have limited resources to cope with it. Since the 1950s, one of the resources that has been most useful is the redesign of weapons so that they will contribute to a true deterrent.'

Herman Kahn's 1959 testimony to the 22-26 June 1959 U.S. Congressional Hearings on the Biological and Environmental Effects of Nuclear War:

Page 833:

'Let me start by making some remarks about quantitative computations. The most important reason for being quantitative is because one may, in fact, be able to calculate what is happening. Many of the witnesses have emphasized the uncertainities of thermonuclear war but ... Napoleon ... would have been impressed with the relevance of quantitative calculations; impressed with the accuracy with which people predict what a nuclear war is like. ... This is of some real interest; before World War II, for example, many of the staffs engaged in estimating the effects of bombing over-estimated the effects of bombing by large amounts. This was one of the main reasons that at the Munich Conference and earlier occasions the British and the French chose appeasement to standing firm or fighting. Incidentally, these staff calculations were more lurid than the worst imaginations of fiction. [Air bombing was predicted to destroy whole cities in firestorms in a single air raid, with clouds of poison gas killing everyone for hundreds of miles downwind, like fallout exaggerations from megaton surface bursts which assume that people are constantly outdoors on a smooth infinite unobstructed plane, etc.]'

Page 904:

'I would like to emphasise: Britain declared war on Germany in 1914. Britain declared war on Germany in 1939. If they had not been able to declare war in either of those 2 years, they would have had to let the Germans do whatever they wanted to do. ... I have a book ... which I recommend to those who want to exaggerate the impact of thermonuclear war. It is called Munich: Prologue to Tragedy, by Wheeler Bennett [this book is similar in many respects to President John F. Kennedy's own excellent book written from first hand experience in London when World War II broke out, on the perils of appeasement due to exaggeration of the effects of war, Why England Slept; remember that Hitler was widely praised by pacifists globally after he announced with a lot of hype but of course no sincerity, his grand '25-Year-Peace-Plan' on March 7, 1936]. Among other things Wheeler Bennett discusses why Chamberlain and Daladier folded. When they returned from Munich [where they enjoyed lovely tea and cakes while making useless pacifist treaties on bits of paper not worth a cent with the evil Adolf Hitler in 1938, being far too fearful of Hitler's ever increasing military power and its exaggerated explosive and poison gas effects to challenge him over his evil treatment of Jews even at that time] they were cheered by their people in Paris and London, because war had been averted. Over that weekend some people began to understand that war had been averted by a sellout of the worst sort. And on Monday some few were prepared to criticize. But ... The people who critized Chamberlain and Daladier, with a couple of exceptions, did not criticize them for not going to war; they said, "Hitler was bluffing, and you should have stood your ground".

'As far as we can tell, Hitler was not bluffing. The men who were in the room with him could see he was not bluffing. It was easy for the people back home to say he was bluffing, but not for the men who had the decision to make. The German people did not want war. The German Army did not want war. ... But Hitler seems to have been willing to have a war if he couldn't have his way.'

Pages 909-15:

'Our study distinguishes three types of deterrence in examining the implications for nonmilitary defense:

'Type I - Deterrence of a direct attack on the United States. ... It is not that the Soviets could reliably expect to be untouched, but that a situation might arise in which the Soviets might feel that going to war was the least risky of the available alternatives. ...

'Type II - Deterrence of extremely provocative behavior. The Soviets ... ask themselves if they can force the United States to accept peacefully the consequences of some extremely provocative action (say a large-scale attack on Europe or a Munich-type crisis). ... If the Soviets were not deterred then the United States might actually carry out an evacuation to try to persuade them to desist. If the evacuation did not persuade the Soviets to desist, then in the last resort the United States might decide that it was less risky to go to war than to acquiesce. ...

'Type III - Deterrence of moderately provocative actions. [Berlin Wall of 1961, Cuban missiles crisis of 1962, the Soviet backed war against South Vietnam, etc.] In this case it would be wishful thinking to expect deterrence to work most of the time. However, Soviet calculations which contemplate provoking the United States might be influenced by the existence of a U.S. plan for a crash nonmilitary defense program. ... Experience has shown that attempts to conduct large and overcoordinated programs tend to create inflexibility and to stifle new, unproven ideas or independent approaches.'

In the 22-26 June 1959 U.S. Congressional Hearings on the Biological and Environmental effects of Nuclear War following Kahn was the Nobel Laureate Willard F. Libby who stated on pages 924-5:

'We are led, when we review the history of man, ancient and modern, to the conclusion that it is wise to take out some insurance for our protection in the event that something goes wrong and peaceful international relations come to an end. The nature of the effects of modern nuclear weapons and the ranges over which these effects can produce casualties may provoke the question: "Is there really anything we can do?" My answer to this question is, "Yes." ...

'The committee will recall that we have announced that the fallout from the [15 megatons Castle-Bravo surface burst of] March 1, 1954, detonation at Bikini Atoll would have created radiation casualties in an area estimated at 7,000 square miles if no protective measures were taken. Casualties, seriously injured and dead from the initial effects of this bomb would have occurred in an area of perhaps 250 to 300 square miles [for people standing up, fully exposed to the effects of flying glass and thermal radiation from a 15 megatons bomb which is now long since obsolete and replaced by bombs with typically 100 times smaller yield, 150 kt]. There is a great difference between the two areas and I should like to focus on the need for protection and the capability for protecting the people in the 6,700 square miles or more beyond the range of initial blast, thermal and nuclear radiation. We can save them easily. We can lose them easily. ...

'The first action for anyone who does not already possess the knowledge is to learn what these weapons effects are. No one can be expected to act properly or at all for that matter on any problem unless he understands what makes it. It is necessary for people to learn about fallout, about nuclear radiation, about the effects of nuclear radiation on people, animals, plants, food, water: the things that are immutably linked to life.'

Dr Paul Tompkins of the U.S. Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory stated on pages 953-4 of the Hearings:

'I had the experience of being on the Manhattan Division [developing the first nuclear weapons] in 1943. I am very familiar with the psychology of revulsion against the effect these weapons can produce. ... the results are catastropic enough in their own right. They need no imaginary amplification. The facts themselves are bad enough. However, it is crucially important to look those facts squarely in the face if one is going to face the necessity for survival if against your will or despite anything you can do about it, it is imposed on you. As far as I am concerned, if the chips ever go down and avoiding a conflict is not possible in the scheme of human events of the future, I for one do not propose to see this Nation come out the loser. ...

'The world of the future is going to be dangerous. The human capacity to inflict such damage will inevitably be there. The threat of the employment of that damage is something with which we will have to live unless something very drastic changes in our international relations. ... I personally never expect to see consequences of the type displayed on these maps. ...

'As far as I am personally concerned, by looking at the problems, understanding what they are composed of, and by necessity being an incurable optimist, I never expect to see a war of this kind happen. It is possible that more limited engagements of a more sharply defined type will be fought under the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads some time in the future. If so, let us be prepared for that. So, that at least, is my personal view as to the role that the nonmilitary defense should play, and it will never be perfect.'

Chairman Holifield then concluded the 1959 Hearings on pages 954-5 with the following words:

'These long technical testimonies were necessary in order that the basic record might be presented in as fair a way as we know how. In conclusion I want to say the challenge of the nuclear age is enormous and inescapable.

'The facts of nuclear war and the effects of nuclear war once established will not fade away because they are unpleasant. If we are prudent we will not ignore them.

'They will not disappear. Each of us must accept personal responsibilities because the nuclear war is a personal threat to our survival.

'The problem is too large to leave solely in the hands of the diplomats and the generals.'

I've blogged before about Samuel Glasstone, Philip J. Dolan, their book The Effects of Nuclear Weapons 1977, and the neutron bomb which they avoid mentioning in that book but discuss elsewhere, such as in Dolan's classified manual Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons DNA-EM-1 and Glasstone's Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia article on Nuclear Weapons. The neutron bomb is the number 1 reason why a new edition of The Effects of Nuclear Weapons is needed, or at least open publication of Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons DNA-EM-1. The purpose of nuclear weapons in the world since 1945 has been to end world wars. They succeeded in ending WWII and preventing WWIII. But does it make sense to abolish them now that WWIII is no longer such a threat due to the collapse of communism? Certainly, thousands of high-yield strategic weapons may now be considered a "threat" of World War, rather than a vital deterrent to such a war. But some nuclear weapons are still needed to deter a smaller nuclear threat from proliferation, terrorist states, and so on:

So it stands to reason that the nuclear deterrent needs to be redirected towards the current smaller scale nuclear threat, now that the Cold War has been fading into history for twenty years and strategic stockpiles are diminishing. As General Charles de Gaulle famously observed, "generals are always fighting the last war". Things need to be updated. The neutron bomb is perfect: it is only effective for low kiloton yields, so it preserves and indeed enhances the credible deterrent aspect of nuclear weapons, while averting all risks of collateral damage (there is no blast, thermal or local fallout threat due to the low 1-2 kilotons yield of which 80% of the 17.6 MeV deuterium-tritium fusion energy comes out as 14.1 MeV neutrons - which, unlike 0.025 eV reactor moderated neutrons, can't be stopped by thin plastic, cadmium foil, etc. contrary to pseudoscientific propaganda - and the 500 metres burst altitude).

“The first objection to battlefield ER weapons is that they potentially lower the nuclear threshold because of their tactical utility. In the kind of potential strategic use suggested where these warheads would be held back as an ultimate countervalue weapon only to be employed when exchange had degenerated to the general level, this argument loses its force: the threshold would long since have been crossed before use of ER weapons is even contemplated. In the strategic context, it is rather possible to argue that such weapons raise the threshold by reinforcing the awful human consequences of nuclear exchange: the hostages recognize they are still (or once again) prisoners and, thus, certain victims.”

- Dr Donald M. Snow (Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of International Studies, University of Alabama), “Strategic Implications of Enhanced Radiation Weapons”, Air University Review, July-August 1979 issue (online version linked here).

“You published an article ‘Armour defuses the neutron bomb’ by John Harris and Andre Gsponer (13 March, p 44). To support their contention that the neutron bomb is of no military value against tanks, the authors make a number of statements about the effects of nuclear weapons. Most of these statements are false ... Do the authors not realise that at 280 metres the thermal fluence is about 20 calories per square centimetre – a level which would leave a good proportion of infantrymen, dressed for NBC conditions, fit to fight on? ... Perhaps they are unaware of the fact that a tank exposed to a nuclear burst with 30 times the blast output of their weapon, and at a range about 30 per cent greater than their 280 metres, was only moderately damaged, and was usable straight afterwards. ... we find that Harris and Gsponer’s conclusion that the ‘special effectiveness of the neutron bomb against tanks is illusory’ does not even stand up to this rather cursory scrutiny. They appear to be ignorant of the nature and effects of the blast and heat outputs of nuclear weapons, and unaware of the constraints under which the tank designer must operate.”

- C. S. Grace, Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, Wiltshire, New Scientist, 12 June 1986, p. 62.

'The neutron bomb, so-called because of the deliberate effort to maximize the effectiveness of the neutrons, would necessarily be limited to rather small yields - yields at which the neutron absorption in air does not reduce the doses to a point at which blast and thermal effects are dominant. The use of small yields against large-area targets again runs into the delivery problems faced by chemical agents and explosives, and larger yields in fewer packages pose a less stringent problem for delivery systems in most applications. In the unlikely event that an enemy desired to minimize blast and thermal damage and to create little fallout but still kill the populace, it would be necessary to use large numbers of carefully placed neutron-producing weapons burst high enough to avoid blast damage on the ground [500 metres altitude for a neutron bomb of 1 kt total yield], but low enough to get the neutrons down. In this case, however, adequate radiation shielding for the people would leave the city unscathed and demonstrate the attack to be futile.'

- Dr Harold L. Brode, RAND Corporation, Blast and Other Threats, pp. 5-6 in Proceedings of the Symposium on Protective Structures for Civilian Populations, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, Symposium held at Washington, D.C., April 19-23, 1965.

Samuel Cohen, as discussed in earlier posts here and here, argues that his neutron bomb is safer than the high-yield relatively indiscriminate (i.e. collateral damage causing) strategic nuclear weapons now stockpiled. See this linked post for a detailed review of the history of the weapon and the hysterically lying propaganda it generated. Cohen invented the neutron bomb in 1958 at the RAND Corporation: it was a miniaturized successor to the 95% "clean" nuclear test Navajo of Operation Redwing in 1956. He summarizes the history of the neutron bomb in his online lecture (presented in front of an audience which included Edward Teller), Nuclear terrorism: a credible threat?

During research for an Electronics World article on EMP published in November 1994, at the suggestion of the Atomic Weapons Establishment Library, we obtained Dolan's declassified 1,651 pages long Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons. This information is vital for discrediting and debunking the media hype and ignorance of the wide variety of nuclear weapons effects resulting from different kinds of detonation depending on height and depth of burst in conjunction with weapon design factors such as casing and fission yield, many combinations of which produce no nuclear radiation injuries, thermal burns or blast effects. The information published in the widely cited unclassified 1977 Glasstone and Dolan book, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, is described in a footnote on page 1 of EM-1 as merely a "qualitative" introductory supplement to the secret manual EM-1.

UPDATE (13 JULY 2015):

Above: the actual Nevada nuclear test EMP effects data in the 1964 Capabilities of nuclear weapons page 13-2 is a summary of E.G. & G.s 1961 secret report by B. J. Stralser, Electromagnetic Effects from Nuclear Tests, which describes the EMP effects on tripping circuit breakers over 30 miles away from kiloton yield Nevada tower bursts.  Additional EMP data was obtained in the 1962 Nevada surface burst Small Boy, a deliberate EMP effects test.

Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons 1964 Edition

Internet archive PDF location:

1964 Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, the one which compares American nuclear fallout predictions to the 1956 British Buffalo Round 2 ground burst nuclear test at Maralinga, Australia, has been kindly emailed to me as a PDF by

Fina Martinez-Myers

Nuclear Testing Archive
National Security Technologies, LLC
Contractor to the U.S. Department of Energy

Document Location: Location - NNSA/NSO Nuclear Testing Archive Address - P.O. Box 98521 City - Las Vegas State - NV Zip - 89193-8521 Phone - (702)794-5106 Fax - (702)794-5107 Email - CIC@NV.DOE.GOV
Document Type: REPORT
Publication Date: 1964 Dec 31
Declassification Status: Declassified
Document Pages: 0214
Accession Number: NV0105483
OpenNet Entry Date: 2006 Jul 01

Buffalo Round 2 was a 1.4 kiloton fission bomb (an AWRE declassified photo of bomb being set up for the test is shown above) surface burst on Maralinga soil, which is calcium carbonate topped with a thin layer of silicate sand.  This Maralinga soil produced silicate sand (Nevada test like) fallout for tower bursts like Buffalo Round 1 which produced no significant crater, proving that for low altitude bursts the fallout is caused by the sweep-up of loose desert sand by the afterwinds and updraft under the rising fireball.  But for the surface burst Buffalo Round 2, the fallout particles were composed of calcium oxide surrounded by calcium carbonate which must have come from the calcium calcium subsoil, like the American tests on coral islands in Bikini and Eniwetok Atoll.  This proved that the cratering ejecta provides the fallout material in a surface burst.  The 1964 Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, TM 23-200, uses this British surface burst to check its fallout model (the illustration was deleted from the 1972 edition and does not appear in the 1957 edition):

Fig 4-4 in 1964 Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons compares the actual fallout pattern from the 1956 Buffalo-2 surface burst in Australia with the idealized model based on Nevada tests.  For a different plot of this Buffalo-1 fallout pattern, please see


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