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U.S. needs to practice what it preaches about nukes

When the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, 100,000 civilians were killed.

Several days later, another nuclear weapon was unleashed on Nagasaki, leaving a death toll of 50,000.

Both cities were razed to the ground, and survivors were left with permanent physical and psychological scars. The effects of radiation poisoning have still not fully dissipated.

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were certainly not crimes on the same level as the Holocaust or Stalin’s purges. However, one ought not to mince words when discussing them; an act of terrorism is an act of terrorism, no matter who commits it. And the fact that a purportedly democratic, human rights-loving country such as the United States perpetrated them makes the atrocities even worse.

Condemnation of the attacks was never limited to leftists or radicals. Even top military leaders and mainstream politicians criticized President Harry S Truman’s decision. As Dwight D. Eisenhower admitted, “Japan was already defeated . dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary. I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was no longer necessary to save American lives.”

The events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are chillingly relevant today. Decades later, the American government continues its disgusting behavior with nuclear weapons. The United States actively maintains and develops a nuclear arsenal – the largest on Earth. And, as you may or may not know, it still pursues the use of such weapons. This can be seen in the use of depleted uranium (DU) projectiles and bunker-busters.

Under the administration of George Bush Sr., the American military utilized DU shells in the first Gulf War. These shells showed very strong armor-piercing capability, and when they exploded, they let out radioactive dust into the air. The shells themselves may have been aimed at military targets, but the dust they created had horrifying consequences for Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers.

When breathed in, the dust stays in one’s lungs for an extremely long time. It leads to huge rates of cancer, radiation poisoning, deformities and serious birth defects. In short, it has effects very similar to those of a standard nuclear weapon.

At least 320 – and possibly 1,000 – tons of the dust were released in Iraq and the neighboring countries of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. An estimate from the UK Atomic Energy Agency predicts that this dust will cause half a million deaths in the region before the end of the century.

A Democratic president, Bill Clinton, also used DU weaponry during his 1999 invasion of the Balkans. Although the weapons were used less in this war, they still released huge quantities of the deadly dust. It will almost certainly have ugly consequences for civilians in the area for many years to come. What is more, it is extremely probable that DU played a role in George W. Bush’s attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, although is not yet clear to what extent.

Bunker-busters are designed to penetrate the earth and detonate hundreds of underground bunkers. While advertised as effective tactical weapons, these bombs are enormously hazardous and unpredictable.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, the most powerful of these “would have blown out a crater almost a thousand feet across and thrown a cloud of radioactive fallout tens of thousands of feet into the air.” We can only imagine the nightmarish results.

Until very recently, the Bush administration was heavily funding the development of these bombs. After stern scientific warnings from scientists and public outcry, the U.S. government reluctantly agreed to stop the bunker-buster program. The very fact that Bush consciously desired such a weapon speaks volumes.

The U.S. nuclear policy is not only dangerous and deadly, it also displays staggering hypocrisy. Iran and North Korea might develop a single atomic bomb in a number

of years, yet despite its long and horrendous record with nuclear arms, the American government feels it has the right to criticize these countries. It acts as the world’s nuclear policeman. How can one expect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-Il to act when “the world’s only superpower” has repeatedly set such a bad example?

If the United States really wanted to put an end to the global proliferation of WMDs, it would actually start to follow the nuclear logic it imposes on other states. The United States could put an end to WMD production and use if it wanted to, but don’t expect this to happen any time soon.

Such is the insane mindset of imperialism: a mindset that threatens the very existence of the human race. This madness must be ended before it is too late.

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