Thursday, April 07, 2011

Gorbachev - Chernobyl Did It

Mikhail Gorbachev says Chernobyl did in the USSR.

The price of the Chernobyl catastrophe was overwhelming, not only in human terms, but also economically. Even today, the legacy of Chernobyl affects the economies of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Some even suggest that the economic price for the USSR was so high that it stopped the arms race, as I could not keep building arms while paying to clean up Chernobyl.

This is wrong. My declaration of January 15, 1986, is well known around the world. I addressed arms reduction, including nuclear arms, and I proposed that by the year 2000 no country should have atomic weapons. I personally felt a moral responsibility to end the arms race. But Chernobyl opened my eyes like nothing else: it showed the horrible consequences of nuclear power, even when it is used for non-military purposes. One could now imagine much more clearly what might happen if a nuclear bomb exploded. According to scientific experts, one SS-18 rocket could contain a hundred Chernobyls.
To get hundreds of Chernobyls out of an atomic weapon you have to do a ground burst. Not the most efficient use of the weapon unless you are interested in interdicting an area vs blowing up a lot of stuff.

You also have to consider that a single atom bomb has tens of pounds of fissile material vs the tens of tons in a reactor. Or the hundreds of tons in a spent fuel pool. So his expert may have been exaggerating for effect. Or it may be disinformation. Or the parameters were carefully chosen in order to make that statement. Still, he is right about one thing. Chernobyl is still costing those in the vicinity money.

The True Battle of Chernobyl Uncensored

The video is about 93 minutes. Well worth your time to get some idea of what Japan is up against. If you don't have a lot of time may I suggest you start at 1 hour and 15 minutes in and watch for 5 minutes. Keep in mind that the reactors in Japan did not have the burning graphite problem which will tend to localize the effects to Japan. On the other hand water poured on the Chernobyl reactor remained on land. But there was no tsunami to distract the Russians. So there are differences. However, Japan is not a totalitarian state so you can't just give orders to make things happen.

Gorbachev is featured in the video describing the command and control problems he had both in understanding what was going on and in getting things done.

There are a LOT of books about Chernobyl. You can find some of them here:

Books about Chernobyl

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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