The atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan were conducted by the United States during the final stages of World War II in 1945. The two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date. But, that is not the only use of nuclear weapons for “testing” purposes. After witnessing the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki you would think the powers of the world would think twice about unleashing their power further, but quite the opposite happened. Pandora’s Box was open and has stayed open to this day. President Truman even used God to justify military action/might. After the bomb, this excerpt was in one of his speeches:

I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb… It is an awful responsibility which has come to us… We thank God that it has come to us, instead of to our enemies; and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and for His purposes.

President Harry Truman, August 9, 1945

Personally, I cannot imagine such hubris, but it is true. And he is not the first to use God as a justification and he was certainly not the last. But this is not a religious piece and that will be my only reference to God except to say man seems to call on God quite often to justify dastardly acts they perpetrate on others. This is rather about how we and other countries would test such a weapon for years to come and try repeatedly to tell the people concerned that it was good for mankind.

I am going to concentrate on Bikini Atoll because that is where we did most of our testing. Imagine you are Kilon Buano, Chief of the Bikinis. It is the late 40’s and you still do not even know what a camera is, nor how to use one. Then one day a man shows up on your island wanting to talk to you. You certainly cannot understand him, so a translator is brought in to explain what the United States wants from you. This man tells you he is the most powerful man in America. Then he tells you that he is going to ask your people to leave your home, so he can drop a bomb. He further explains that by doing so “America hopes to turn this great destructive power in to something wonderful for the benefit of mankind”. Well you are just the chief of the Bikinis and this powerful man is telling you he wants your home, what choice do you have? It turns out, none. Not only are you forced to leave your lifelong home, but as you are leaving, you turn around for a last look only to see your homes being burned to the ground. It does not matter that you are sad, after all what could be a better reason for displacing a people – the benefit of mankind.

Perhaps the Bikini people should be grateful, they were steered away from the blasts (at least to what is thought a safe distance), our military was not as lucky. Servicemen and woman were sent to Bikini Atoll to prepare for the testing and the amount of effort put into the project was like building a brand new city. A brief history of Bikini Atoll is probably warranted here.


Bikini Atoll is an atoll listed as a World Heritage Site in the Micronesian Islands of the Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. It consists of 23 islands surrounding a deep 229 square mile central lagoon. It has also conserved direct tangible evidence that conveys the power of nuclear tests. Sunken ships sent to the bottom of the lagoon and a gigantic crater called, Bravo remain to this day. It symbolizes the dawn of the nuclear age, despite its image of peace and earthly paradise. Within Bikini Atoll, Bikini Island is the northeastern most and largest islet, measuring 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) long. It was also part of the Pacific Proving Grounds and the site of more than 20 nuclear weapons tests between 1946 and 1958. As a side note in this serious piece, the two piece swimsuit was introduced in the islands within days of the first nuclear test, hence the name bikini. But that is probably the only good thing to have come out of our foray into the Marshall Islands post World War II.

Operation Crossroads is the name given by the Military to the initial tests on Bikini Atoll in mid-1946. It was the first test of a nuclear weapon after the Trinity nuclear test in July 1945, and the first detonation of any nuclear device following the Fat Man detonation on August 9, 1945. Its purpose was to investigate the effect of nuclear weapons on naval ships.


Crossroads consisted of two detonations, each with a yield of 23 kilotons of TNT: Able was detonated at an altitude of 520 feet on July 1, 1946 at 09:00:34 a.m. local time; Baker was detonated 90 feet underwater on July 25, 1946 at 08:35:00 a.m. local time. A third burst, Charlie, planned for 1947, was cancelled primarily because of the Navy’s inability to decontaminate the target ships after the Baker test. Crossroads Charlie was rescheduled as Operation Wigwam, a deep water shot conducted in 1955 off the California coast. The Crossroads tests were the fourth and fifth nuclear explosions conducted by the United States. They were the first of many nuclear tests held in the Marshall Islands and the first to be publicly announced beforehand and observed by an invited audience, including a large press corps. They even had a mother of one of the participants give a stilted speech to the world about how she had been told how safe her son would be in the process of this testing, and how she truly believed it. She might have believed it at the time, but to hear her announcement on the radio prior to the test, it sounded stilted and frankly, rehearsed.

Later, in the 1950s, a series of large thermonuclear tests rendered Bikini unfit for subsistence farming and fishing. Because of radioactive contamination, Bikini remains uninhabited as of 2012, though it is occasionally visited by sport divers (there is even a web page about this type of tourism on the island). Although there are claims that participants in the Crossroads tests were well protected against radiation sickness, all you have to do is put your education today up against the pictures you see to know it was a lie. The Oscar-nominated documentary, Radio Bikini, showed footage of Navy sailors wearing little or no protection during their inspection of the target ships only hours after the explosions, even though some of the observer ships were caught in the fallout of the Baker explosion. In addition, the documentary revealed that Navy ships used contaminated water from the area for drinking and bathing purposes after the blast. One study showed that the life expectancy of participants was reduced by an average of three months. The test further resulted in the radioactive contamination of all the target ships by the underwater Baker shot. Chemist Glenn Seaborg, the longest serving chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, referred to Baker as “the world’s first nuclear disaster.” What in the world did he call the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima?

Nuclear testing went on for years during the cold war but for now, at least, it seems to have stopped. I say, seems, because I am not sure I could trust any government nor the MSM to ever tell the whole truth of what is going on behind our backs. Fukushima is a good example of the world ignoring a real problem. Not long ago, there was a stepped up presence of radiation measurement flights over the San Francisco Bay Area. I heard about these flights but never saw on the news any information of what was detected. There is radiation contamination coming across the Pacific from the Fukushima Nuclear plant and no manner of ignorance by authorities can change that fact. I guess I just wonder why not many seem concerned? I also wonder what the Japanese government and TEPCO are hiding? No, I don’t trust them as I have read the story about the University hospital near Fukushima Prefect that has been dubbed, Dracula’s Castle. Then we have Southern Edison that is working to restart the San Onofre Power Plant. It is well-known that there are many problems with the plant, yet there is a tremendous push to restart it. What does it take to move a government, a country, a company, an individual to say No More? I believe that anyone involved in the nuclear energy business is well aware of the consequences but are gambling on the fact that there is no way to tell if a case of cancer was directly related to radiation poisoning, or how long it takes for radiation poisoning at that low level to manifest itself, or perhaps they do? Either way, we are dealing with what President Truman described as “ 20 tons of TNT that harnesses the power of the universe” and even though I cannot say we have tested a bomb with that power, or that any it would be that destructive at the nuclear plant level, it should scare people. And yes, I did watch Trinity and Beyond and was most dumbstruck by how we have justified our actions all along, when it comes to nuclear power for testing and as a source of energy. Am I against nuclear energy? Of course I still am, but it was not until Fukushima that I really truly thought of the imminent danger of such a plant at any time.

The world is an uncertain place, and to make it even more uncertain is not the brightest thing we could do, we could be putting many more of our resources in to alternate sources of power. But when you have a country filled with backward people who still think Global Warming is a hoax, and that Oil Companies are Gods, alternate energy is not going to get the attention it deserves and that we need in order to move forward in an ever-changing world. In fact, our lack of progress could very well someday bring us to another crossroad just like Hiroshima did in 1945. I hope we choose the safe road next time and I hope it is not too late.

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Wow, Great work Sue. I will have many things to comment on.
Here is a start-

This pdf was put together before Fukushima
It touches on the link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

This very power film, Nuclear Controversies, talks about the health effects that are being ignored after the Chernobyl catastrophe. It shines a light on the issues of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAEA)
Its like putting the tobacco industry in charge the Doctors before they talk to you lung cancer or asthma.

More on IAEA and WHO

“The main way in which the “radiation protection industry” has succeeded in hugely underrating the ill-health caused by nuclear power is by insisting on a group of extremely restrictive definitions as to what qualifies as a radiation-caused illness statistic. For example, under IAEA’s criteria:

> If a radiation-caused cancer is not fatal, it is not counted in the IAEA’s figures

> If a cancer is initiated by another carcenogen, but accelerated or promoted by exposure to radiation, it is not counted.

> If an auto-immune disease or any non-cancer is caused by radiation, it is not counted.

> Radiation-damaged embryos or foetuses which result in miscarriage or stillbirth do not count

> A congenitally blind, deaf or malformed child whose illnesses are are radiation-related are not included in the figures because this is not genetic damage, but rather is teratogenic, and will not be passed on later to the child’s offspring.

> Causing the genetic predisposition to breast cancer or heart disease does not count since it is not a “serious genetic disease” in the Mendelian sense.

> Even if radiation causes a fatal cancer or serious genetic disease in a live born infant, it is discounted if the estimated radiation dose is below 100 mSv [mSv= millisievert, a measurement of radiation exposure. One hundred millsievert is the equivalent in radiation of about 100 X-Rays].

> Even if radiation causes a lung cancer, it does not count if the person smokes — in fact whenever there is a possibility of another cause, radiation cannot be blamed.”

and more
Listen to David Freeman

S. David Freeman, legendary former Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) administrator, who has shutdown many a nuke in his career – and is now working in his 85th year to help local residents and Friends of the Earth decommission San Onofre – explains why we have to ‘kill nuclear power before it kills us.

David puts the history in perspective … He is right on the money!

One more MUST WATCH Film


Thanks for this article Sue, it’s a subject very close to my heart for decades.

I wonder how many Americans are aware that the majority of the 144,000 killed in Hiroshima and the 77,000 in Nagasaki on those days in August who died on impact, were women, children and the elderly because the men were away at war. Then those who died in agony during the next few days, the next few weeks, the next few months and the following years. Those who had dozen of surgeries during their lifetime, and those so deformed that they lived their lives holed up in their homes without mirrors afraid to lead normal lives because nothing about their experience and the extent of their injuries was normal. Also the thousands who died of cancer as a direct result of the radiation fallout.

Whether it was necessary to kill so many innocent people to stop the war is disputable as far as I’m concerned, but apologies for the destruction are way overdue in the same way that Japan must face their wartime legacy, America should do the same. Those were people, not “yellow skinned devils”as I once read somewhere in an account of how people felt about the dropping of the first A-Bombs on Japan. It should be a lesson that it can never be allowed to happen anywhere again. All countries should disarm and dispose of their stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Future generations shouldn’t have to live in constant fear of this manmade threat, there is more than enough to be afraid of as it is.

I have always felt strongly about this, even before I met my husband and later moved to Japan. Now after the Fukushima ongoing crisis and the probability that many stalled reactors could be starting up again, the thought of nuclear energy makes me shake from head to toe, but with this RW government now in power, thoughts of clean, renewable energy and peace of mind, seem to be fading fast. When will we humans ever learn?


Kalima, I believe America did apologize, about two years ago. That was a horrible time for all involved. We hear so much about those two bombs, but America actually killed more Japanese people in our firebombing campaign.
The Japanese started the war and killed thousands of Americans, not to mention the barbaric way they treated prisoners of war. You have to understand, that after Pearl Harbor and the ensuing Pacific theater of war, American hated the Japanese. If Japan had surrendered after Pottsdam, no nuclear weapons would have been used. We even agreed to keep the emperor system in place. The Japanese basically told us to go to hell.


KT, I don’t dispute who started the war or what terrible things the Japanese Imperial Army did in other countries, especially in China, I just think there is a big difference in having nuclear weapons and deciding to use them on sleeping women, children, the elderly and disabled.

I think it was your Ambassador to Japan who apologised first at a ceremony marking the dropping of the bomb in Hiroshima.

It is something we will never agree on, but I think it was wrong and always have. There is never a good enough reason to deliberately decide to eliminate so many people at any time now or then.

I was born in a country that is still apologising for what the Nazis did to millions of innocent people during the war, and the guilt is something that never goes away.


Kalima, unfortunately (to put it mildly) we did the same in Germany and Italy and Africa. Before WWII it was unheard of to deliberately bomb civilians. The bombing of Dresden was a very good example of how we and the Brits gave no regard to civilian lives. It was a horrible chapter, for sure. But, Germany was bombing London to pieces and we had to retaliate.
I know you are sensitive to what Germany did way back when, and how many people see Germany in a dark light, even today. I certainly don’t fault the German people after the end of WWII. I agree whole heartedly in what JFK said to Berliners. “I too am a Berliner.” These subjects about who did what during WWII are amazing in regard to modern day.
Over 60 million people died in WWII, and the majority of those people were civilians. We must never let this to happen again. Never.


“We must never let this to happen again. Never”. On this KT, we agree 200%.

Yes I’m sensitive about my country’s past, most of us are, and our legacy is to still be one of the most hated nations on earth, and the hate is something I have experienced personally as a child and then as an adult, and it’s crushing. As you say, “Never again”.


Some people will do literally anything to make money regardless of how many people are hurt in the process. Nuclear power plants put out two products: 1) electric energy and 2) spent nuclear fuel rods. When I was a kid I was told that the nuclear waste from power plants was all stored in the desert somewhere, but that’s not exactly the case. Nuclear power plants store their spent fuel rods on site, right there on the plant. There was (is?) a permanent facility located in one of the desert states intended to house all the spent rods, but the host state eventually declined to allow it. Even if we eventually stop using nuclear power and nuclear weapons mankind will still spend the rest of its existence protecting itself from this nuclear wast it has built up. The only real solution I can think of is to put the tons of wast in rocket ships and send them off to a distant asteroid.
Of course this is all based on here say knowledge, and the rocket ship idea is sci-fi pie in the sky, not that it isn’t do-able.


jj, just look at Chernobyl. Even after all these years, it is still uninhabitable and probably will be for another 100 years or more. Chilling stuff.


Sue, talk about coincidences. After getting up and fixing coffee, I sat down at the computer, as always and the first story I clicked was about a man who participated in the Army’s nuke tests in the 50s.

I too have seen Trinity and Beyond and it is just mind boggling to see such power unleashed. Way more power than Fat Man and Little Boy. Their yields were measured in kilo-tons. Thermonuclear bombs however, are measured in Mega-tons.

Russia even made one that was something like 56 mega-tons. Just utterly mind blowing (no pun intended).

I have mixed feelings about such powerful and poisonous weapons. They did seem to put an end to world wars. Now we fight much smaller, regional wars, but heaven help us if we ever have a nuclear war. I think it was Einstein who said If we have a WWIII, WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones.


Thanks to Harry Truman and others of his ilk, we not only got the bomb before our enemies – we became our enemies.


audadvnc, do you think we shouldn’t have developed the A Bomb?


Ad, I think we really had no choice. The Germans were working on one themselves and by luck and determination, we made one first. Can you imagine if Germany had gotten nuclear weapons before we did? The Japanese were also working on a bomb, but not with very much success.
Like I said, I don’t think we had much choice.