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Editorial: Nuclear Waste

It was 20 years ago this month that the world witnessed the terrifying spectacle of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Twenty years of gradually mounting evidence to help piece together like a jigsaw, a background of cynical and calculated brutality that is almost without parallel. Twenty years in which the soundness of the Socialist Party's stand on the whole question of war in all its forms has been again and again vindicated.

Labour and the Atom Bomb

It is sometimes forgotten that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place under a Labour government. Attlee was British Prime Minister at the time and was a member of the war cabinet involved with the American government in organising the development and production of the atomic weapon. As Prime Minister he had a representative at the bombing of Nagasaki.

In a speech at a Pilgrim's Dinner in London on 21 June 1956, referring to the action of President Truman, Attlee declared:

    "He had to take the decision about the atomic bomb. It is questioned sometimes. In my view in the light of the knowledge we had at that time, he was absolutely right." (Daily Telegraph, 22 June 1956.)

Hiroshima in the Making

The idea that the material world is composed of enormous numbers of exceedingly small entities called atoms was first propounded about 450 BC by the Greek philosopher Leucippus and his pupil Democritus. It was not until 1911, however, when Ernest (later Lord) Rutherford published a paper putting forward the nuclear model of the atom, that the proposition gained general acceptance. It may seem hard today to realise that the paper caused no commotion in the world of physics — Rutherford himself does not appear to have considered this discovery as the epoch-making event it turned out to be. In fact, this is not surprising since no commercial application could be envisaged for the work, unlike x-rays and radium which had obvious medical uses and were soon seen as potential sources of profit.

Hiroshima and After!

Another date has been added to History's gruesome chronology of horror. Hiroshima, August 5th 1945, marks the application of a new technique in the sordid science of slaughter. In one catastrophic flash a city has been destroyed and "all life seared to death". While the monument of dust still towered above the ruins, the news was released upon a world almost satiated with carnage.

Yet it is significant to observe that although the use of the atomic bomb hastened the end of the war in the East, the announcement was received with little popular enthusiasm.

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