In 1959, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower sought to reduce America’s atomic firepower by as much as 50% on the grounds that its stock alone was enough to wipe-out the entire human species and some.
Eisenhower was aware of US plans to kill millions of civilians in Russia in the event of a nuclear war. Documents revealed recently by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration confirms the “systematic destruction” in major cities, including 179 in Moscow, 145 in Leningrad and 91 in East Berlin. The targets are referred to as DGZs or “Designated Ground Zeros.” While many are industrial facilities, government buildings and the like, one for each city is simply designated “Population.” In other words, America had atomic weapons targeted on mass population areas to kill as many civilians as possible in the event of a conflict with Russia.
Matthew G. McKinzie, the director of the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council also confirmed “The heart of deterrence is the threat to destroy the adversary’s cities, even today.”
Matters have not got better at all. In fact, the cold war may have been a very tense time but the situation is now much worse, or in the words of Richard Falk, American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, “Not since the dawn of the nuclear age at the end of World War II has the danger of nuclear war been greater.” Falk said just ten years after the end of the cold war.
The Guardian quotes former US defence Secretary William Perry — “The risks of a nuclear catastrophe — in a regional war, terrorist attack, by accident or miscalculation — is greater than it was during the cold war and rising.” Perry, who served at the Pentagon from 1994 to 1997, made his comments a few hours before North Korea’s nuclear test last week, and listed Pyongyang’s aggressive atomic weapons programme as one of the global risk factors.
Perry continues — “Progress made after the fall of the Soviet Union to reduce the chance of a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia is now unravelling. The probability of a nuclear calamity is higher today, I believe, that it was during the cold war. A new danger has been rising in the past three years and that is the possibility there might be a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia” — just as Falk feared.