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From De Gaulle to Obama

Written by Maria Arvaniti Sotirpoulou


There could be no better conjunction!  Just as the American President, who was honored with the nobel prize also for his promises with regard to a nuclear-free world, announces the construction of the first nuclear power station since thirty years, we hear from France about their nuclear experiments on soldiers. These soldiers were not only watching the atmospheric nuclear test in Algeria, but also ordered to enter "Ground Zero", so that the effects of radioactivity on fighting men could be subjected to scientific scrutiny.

It was already known for some time, that the United States were carrying out experiments, in which they exposed human beings to radiation without their knowledge and of cause without their consent. We remember the photographs of soldiers being spectators of the nuclear tests in Nevada as well as the inhabitants of the Pacific Islands at the Bikini Hydrogen Bomb tests. Moreover we know from archives in the former Soviet Union, that in 1954 the Soviets forced an entire army to march from Tomsk to the Urals through the epicenter of a test explosion of a nuclear bomb, which also polluted cities in the entire surrounding area.

France, which started to identify nuclear weapons with national pride when de Gaulle was President, hid and still continues to hide anything, that might expose the destruction, brought by nuclear tests to its citizens and the environment. But not only military nuclear tests, like those on the Moruroa Atoll, where France was the last country, which continued underground nuclear testings, even after the implementation of the  Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996, were brought to public attention.There were also revelations, which showed, that radioactivity from uranium supplies has been spread all over the territory of France.

There is an inseparable link between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. And it is absurd that President Obama starts constructing new nuclear power stations in the USA at the same time, when he is reproaching Iran for its nuclear program, from which there is said, that it is a first step to aquire nuclear weapons. This is not the first time, that the USA show such a type of deranged arrogance. In 1997, when the USA already had signed all the antinuclear agreements and when they were putting lot of effort into the aim of imposing these arangements on other countrys, they simultaneously proceeded with sub-critical nuclear tests for the construction of new mini-nuclear weapons. This led to the result, that in 1998 India and Pakistan understandably went ahead  with their own nuclear tests, testing weapons, which they had contructed with the technology and the materials they had acquired from their nuclear power stations. The disastrous consequences of radioactivity for human health (from the spectacular deaths from indirect exposure up to the cancers and genetic mutations in our offspring) are well-known and undisputed, even by defenders of nuclear weapons.

But the horror of Hiroshima has faded away with time. Films, which wanted to awake resistance by illustrating nuclear annihilation, achieved the opposite by making nuclear holocausts from weapons or accidents appear like science-fiction.
People have a tendency to forget horrendous disasters. This leads to the result, that after earthquakes, construction work in Naples, Santorini or other seismic areas usually went on like before. Chernobyl was even easier to forget, because the number of victims has been disputet by those, who were defending the interests of the nuclear lobby. But anyway, it was obliged to remeber on Chernobyl for some time and under the pressure of public opinion, many foolproof safety mechanisms were elaborated, which led to the result, that the construction of a nuclear power station seemed finally not to be worthwhile anymore. But with the current economical crisis, everything seems to become overtuned. Confronted with the prospect of unemployment, citizens can more easily be persuaded of accepting the risk of another nuclear holocaust.

At least, after energy sufficiency and “green” development, President Obama was now able to evoke the argument of additional workplaces to justify his decision for the construction of the new nuclear power station. The fact, that this power station will provide the raw materials for nuclear weapons, is something we acctually wouldn't expect him to advertise. Twenty years passed by, until the fact, that the Pentagon warned Kodak of its nuclear tests in Nevada to avoid damage on Kodaks films, but not the people, who were living in the area, was revealed. In consequence of the tests, the rates of cancer within the population of the affected residents started to show huge increases.
Now it will take many more years before we will find out the real reasons for this sudden nuclear revival, which we face nowadays. There is no doubt, that there are more Chernobyls to come. The dangers of a nuclear accident are not disputed, even by the keenest supporters of nuclear energy. These people just believe that our energy is worth the risk.
Are their relatives going to be the victims? And now, that nuclear weapons have been miniaturized, their use doesn't frighten those military planners who developed the proposals for soldier marches and the involvement. And as long as Israel possesses nuclear weapons, the whole region remains a nuclear powder keg, ready to flare up at the drop of a hat. Economic crises have a tendency to result in war. Let us hope, that the globalized crisis of the 21st century will not end in a nuclear holocaust.


Learn about Nuclear Weapons

Learn About Nuclear Weapons is a web-based educational material from the Swedish Physicians Against Nuclear Weapons for those who want to learn more about nuclear weapons: