Atomic threat to United States very real

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2006

On the day America was celebrating its independence, that crazy, confounding loon Kim Jong-il decided to show just exactly what he thought about the United States, test launching at least five missiles into the Sea of Japan.

This, may I say, is significant.

It seems like ancient history now, but it was only 61 years ago that the United States harnessed the power of the atom and brought World War II to an abrupt halt by dropping a pair of atomic bombs on Japan. Since the nuclear genie was let out of the bottle, seven more nations have added atomic weaponry to their arsenals – Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, China, Pakistan and India. North Korean, along with Iran, is in the process of developing nuclear weapons. And there are more than a handful of states with the technological capabilities to produce nuclear arms.

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While it would be Chicken Little to say the sky is falling, it would be naive for anyone think the future is a world of bright promise and hope.

I recall reading something, I believe in Time, where one of the atomic scientists that worked on the original two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 wondered aloud why any nation continued to build bridges. Or anything for that matter. All too soon, he said, the proliferation of atomic weapons would eventually spiral into full-blown Armageddon. The arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union seemed to signal it was only a matter of time before someone pushed the button, either by mistake, or by necessity. The only thing that stopped the two Super Powers from doing so was the threat of mutual assured destruction; likely, there would be no world left after the nuclear warheads started falling.

But the Berlin Wall fell. A good moment in history, but an absolute nightmare when you consider the world today. Terrorist states like Iraq, Syria, Iran, and North Korea came to the forefront. Although ideologically different, the U.S.S.R. could be reasoned with. You can't reason with four or five highly unstable dictatorships, each with a feverish and maniacal hatred of the United States.

It is said that had Hitler been able to take the world with him as his majestic Reich crumbled, he most certainly would have. Would Kim Jong-il have any reservations about becoming a nuclear Kamikaze on his deathbed?

9-11 was a horrible day in the life of America. But only thousands died. A nuclear weapon detonated inside, or dropped on, a major American city would kill millions.

There would not be enough left for a memorial.

Kevin Pearcey is Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers, LLC. He can be reached by phone at 383-9302, ext. 136 or by email at: