September 18, 2013
At the height of the Cold War, over 60,000 nuclear weapons were armed and ready to deploy, between the arsenals of of the US and the USSR. Today, that number is closer to 2,000, due to the SALT nuclear reduction treaties, roughly 1,500 of which belong to the US. We can be grateful for the over 50,000 fewer looming nuclear mistakes that can be made but we can always keep doing better.
This video segment comes from Democracy Now!
“Thirty-three years ago to the day, the United States narrowly missed a nuclear holocaust on its soil. The so-called ‘Damascus Accident’ involved a Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile mishap at a launch complex outside Damascus, Arkansas. During a routine maintenance procedure, a young worker accidentally dropped a nine-pound tool in the silo, piercing the missile’s skin and causing a major leak of flammable rocket fuel. Sitting on top of that Titan 2 was the most powerful thermonuclear warhead ever deployed on an American missile. The weapon was about 600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. For the next nine hours, a group of airmen put themselves at grave risk to save the missile and prevent a massive explosion that would’ve caused incalculable damage.
“The story is detailed in Eric Schlosser’s new book, “Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety,” which explores how often the United States has come within a hair’s breadth of a domestic nuclear detonation or an accidental war. Drawing on thousands of pages of recently declassified government documents and interviews with scores of military personnel and nuclear scientists, Schlosser shows that America’s nuclear weapons pose a grave risk to humankind.”