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General History/Weapons of Mass Destruction

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Question
Hello, I am I student at a project based school, and I am currently doing a project on Weapons of Mass Destruction. I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me.
1. In your opinion, what is the most lethal WoMD?
2. Besides the nuclear bombings in Japan, are there any other nuclear incidents? (Not just including war and bombs.)
3. What are some things civilians do to prepare themselves for a chemical, biological, or nuclear attack?
4. Can you direct me to any sources, or experts on WoMD?

Answer
Hi Lydia,
Probably the most dangerous WMDs are nuclear weapons. There are nightmare scenarios out there about some new disease popping up and spreading all over the world before a vaccine can be developed. Any disease can theoretically be weaponized, but so far, those scenarios are mostly just theories.

Truman considered using nuclear weapons during the Korean War but ultimately decided not to. In 1991 and again in 2003 we strongly hinted that if Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on our troops we would use nuclear weapons in retaliation. Saddam did not use chemical weapons on either of those occasions. Until the 1970s, countries that had nuclear weapons tested them on the surface of the earth. The nuclear fallout would then drift hundreds or even thousands of miles, sometimes to populated areas. Since the 1970s, all nuclear tests have occurred underground with minimal radioactive leakage into the atmosphere. In the 1950s there was a movie starring John Wayne called "The Conqueror" It was arguably the worst movie he ever made, but it was shot on a former nuclear test site. No one knew about radiation back then or how long the environment would remain poisoned after a test.  Wayne and several other people associated with the movie would eventually die of cancer. The most famous nuclear accidents were Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania about 1979, Chirnobyl, about 1986, in Kiev, then USSR, now Ukraine, and Fukushima, Japan just a year or two ago. All three were nuclear power plants that experienced mechanical failures.

If you came to suspect a WMD attack was imminent, the best thing you could do was to get as far away as possible from likely target areas like population centers (cities), military facilities, or industrial plants. When Saddam Hussein launched SCUDs at Israel in 1991, the government issued gas masks to as many people as possible. There were not enough to go around. They also told people to line the insides of their homes with plastic sheets to keep the chemicals out. Saddam ended up not using chemical weapons so it was all for nothing. We do not know if such precautions would have helped. They may have helped some, but not enough. Many people would not have used their gas masks correctly. Military people are trained in chemical warfare. It's not something you can learn by reading a set of instructions. I was in the '91 Gulf War. I remember sitting in a bunker during a SCUD attack watching other trained military people struggling to put on a gas mask in a state of near panic. It's not something a civilian can do correctly the first time they try it. As it turned out, the SCUD attack was a false alarm, but we didn't know that until later.

Someone else asked me a question about chemical weapons a year or two ago. Check out:

http://en.allexperts.com/q/General-History-674/2012/8/chemical-warfare-throughou

Hope this answers your question,

C.M.  

General History

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C.M. Aaron

Expertise

My interests are pretty diverse: military history, technology, and social trends for most historical eras, general U.S. history, European history, especially Roman and early medieval history but also the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, European colonialism in Africa, a little bit of Asian history, especially as it relates to European and American imperialism. I'm also pretty good with presidential history.

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I've read hundreds of history books on various subjects. I've also been writing historical fiction for about twenty years. Story development drives my research. I am also a tour guide at a local museum.

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Bachelor's degree in history and geography.

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