The Nuclear Powers

Nine countries currently have nuclear weapons: The United States, Russia, France, United Kingdom, China, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. Of these powers, North Korea presents the most imminent threat due to the hostility of its leaders. In the event of war, Japan and South Korea lie within range of its missiles and could face total destruction. As its missiles improve and, if testing continues, North Korea will soon have the capacity to strike the continental United States.

Four countries had nuclear weapons and abandoned them. South Africa developed six nuclear weapons. It discontinued its program in 1989 and dismantled them. Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus possessed nuclear weapons when the Soviet Union disintegrated. They gave them to Russia.

Iraq was developing a nuclear weapons program. Israel destroyed its reactors with bombs in 1981, and the victors dismantled the program following the Gulf War.

Libya had a program, but Muammar Gadhafi surrendered it in 2003 in exchange for better relations with the West.

Israel destroyed Syria’s program with airstrikes against its reactor.

Iran has had a clandestine nuclear weapons program for decades. In 2015 it agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In return for relief from international sanctions, Iran agreed to get rid of its medium-enriched uranium and to diminish its low-enriched uranium by 98 percent. For thirteen years, it would also decrease its gas centrifuges by two thirds. It would limit enrichment of uranium to 3.67 percent for fifteen years and for the same length of time would build no new heavy-water facilities.

Shortly before implementation, Iran released four American prisoners, and the US dropped charges against fourteen Iranians. The US also sent four hundred million dollars in cash to Iran and gave it $1.3 billion.

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Hiroshima Anniversary

August 6, 2016

Today is the seventy-first anniversary of the atomic explosion that led to the end of WWII. The Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 bomber, released the Uranium-235 bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. It detonated at 2,000 feet above the ground, destroying most of the city and leading to the deaths of 200,000 people. The co-pilot wrote in his journal, “My God. What have we done?”
Dr. Michihiko Hachiya described the horror from his vantage point near ground zero in his book Hiroshima Diary, which I read as a teenager and which stimulated my interest in pursuing a career in medicine.
The creation of the device was the culmination of research by a team of scientists led by J Robert Oppenheimer within the Manhatten Project. The Soviet Union had a parallel program during WWII, and with the help of spies, developed and exploded their own atomic bomb four years after the Hiroshima event.

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The Trinity Nuclear Test

Nine days ago, the world celebrated the seventy-first anniversary of the first explosion of an atomic bomb. This plutonium device was the product of years of research by the scientists recruited into the Manhattan Project. They gave the test the code name Trinity. Detonation took place on July 16, 1945 at the top of a 100-foot tower at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range, which is now the White Sands Missile Range in the desert of New Mexico. The energy released was equivalent to the explosion of 20 tons of TNT. A flash of light many times brighter than the sun covered all of New Mexico and parts of Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. A mushroom cloud rose 38,000 feet, and the temperature exceeded 10,000 times that of the surface of the sun. Ground zero became a crater 2,400 feet in diameter, and the sand of the desert turned to glass.
This was a tiny device when compared to modern nuclear weapons whose yield is measured in megatons (millions of tons) instead of kilotons (thousands of tons).

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CDC Report on West Africa Ebola Outbreak

The CDC reports 1975 cases of Ebola with 1069 suspected deaths in the West Africa outbreak as of August 13. Guinea accounted for 510 of the patients with 670 in Liberia, 783 in Sierra Leone, and 12 in Nigeria. Although this is the world’s largest Ebola outbreak, the CDC predicts no significant risk to the United States. The only cases in the US are Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly who were transported from Liberia following treatment with the experimental drug Zmapp.
The disease is not felt to be contagious until the patient has symptoms, and it is not transmitted through the air or in food or water. Spread occurs from an infected person or animal via direct contact with broken mucous membranes or skin or through body fluids such as blood, saliva, feces, urine, etc. or with needles or other objects that have been in contact with the virus.

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ZMapp treatment for Ebola

The Ebola Virus epidemic that began in March in West Africa now involves patients in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria. Of the 1,603 cases, there have been 887 deaths, giving a mortality rate of 55 percent. The two Americans who acquired the infection in Liberia are showing remarkable response to ZMapp, a new experimental drug produced by Mapp Biopharmaceutical.  ZMapp is a collection of monoclonal antibioties generated in mice that were exposed to fragments of Ebola virus. The medicine had never been used in humans. Trials in monkeys had been limited but showed promise.

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EMP Effects of a Nuclear Weapon

According to the executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, North Korea has the capacity at this time to deliver a nuclear weapon via ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) to the United States. Obviously the U.S. could respond with thousands of weapons that would obliterate that country, but that would not undo the colossal damage of a single nuclear weapon exploded at high altitude above the United States.
As far back as 2004, the Russians notified the Congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Commission that North Korea had acquired the information necessary for construction of a super-EMP warhead. Such a nuclear weapon would release gamma rays that would strip electrons from atoms in the upper atmosphere, creating an electromagnetic pulse that would destroy our electric power grid.
An explosion at a height of 200 miles could knock out much of the electronics across the US making a reality of the current TV series “Revolution” in which people have to adjust to life without electricity with the inherent loss of communications, lighting, computing, and transportation systems. The economy would collapse; and according to the Congressional EMP Commission, two-thirds of the U.S. population could die within the first year as a result of starvation, disease, and the turmoil resulting from the collapse of the infrastructure of the nation.

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Weapons of Mass Destruction

For anyone interested in a brief, easy-to-read summary of weapons of mass destruction, Fox News published Weapons of Mass Destruction Handbook at,2933,76887,00.html.
This site gives a brief summary of the three main categories of WMD: Biological, Nuclear, and Chemical Weapons. It includes history, types of weapons, delivery systems, symptoms, treatment, and a list of the countries that are known to possess these weapons.

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Ebola outbreak in Uganda 2012

The Ebola outbreak in Uganda has reached 38 cases with 16 deaths since July 1. All the patients came from a rural region west of Kampala. Laboratory tests reveal the virus to be the Sudan strain of Ebola which carries a mortality of 50 percent and which has raised its head four other times in Africa since 1976. The CDC has sent a team of experts to Uganda to evaluate the situation and to aid in treatment. Eighteen of the first 20 casualties arose from one family.

A year ago a single patient presented with Ebola in the Luwero district of Uganda.

The previous outbreak involving the Sudan strain of Ebola in Uganda occurred in 2000 with 425 presumptive cases leading to 224 deaths by January 23, 2001. Prevalent symptoms included diarrhea, asthenia, anorexia, headache, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and chest pain. Twenty percent of patients developed bleeding, which mainly involved the GI tract. Epidemiologic studies revealed three main modes of transmission: 1. Attending funerals that encouraged ritual contact with corpses. 2. Intrafamilial or nosocomial contact. 3. Fourteen health care workers became infected.

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Viral Hemorrhagic Fever

Viral hemorrhagic fever is a title given to a spectrum of diseases caused by viruses that affect the vascular bed. Fever, myalgia, and prostration occur early; and petechial hemorrhages, hypotension, and conjunctivitis are common findings. Bleeding from mucous membranes, shock, and death may follow.

Yellow fever killed ten percent of the population of Philadelphia during an epidemic in 1793, and the illness devastated 23,000 to 30,000 French soldiers in Haiti in 1800, helping that country to secure independence from Napoleon. Mosquitoes transmit the disease. Prevention may be accomplished by control of the vector.

Marburg and Ebola viruses, which originated in Africa, are morphologically identical, and they produce similar symptoms. Marburg carries a mortality of about 25% whereas Ebola has a rate up to 90%.

Lassa and the South American Hemorrhagic Fever viruses can produce severe disease. Rodents serve as their host and humans contract the disease by contact with rats or mice or their urine of feces.

The Crimean-Congo virus causes severe disseminated intravascular coagulopathy.

An early attempt at biological warfare occurred during the Civil War. Dr. Luke Blackburn of the Confederate Secret Service shipped clothes contaminated with blood, vomit, and excrement from people with yellow fever to the United States, expecting to infect union troops. He did not realize at the time that the mosquitos were the vector for spread of the disease, and no epidemic ensued. Following WWII, the United States and the Soviet Union developed weapons for the dissemination of viral hemorrhagic viruses.

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Smallpox was a highly contagious, often fatal, disease caused by the variola virus. Over five hundred million people died from it during the twentieth century. Due to efforts of the World Health Organization, the disease was eradicated with no cases documented since 1977. The only known stocks of the organisms are at the CDC in Atlanta and the Ivanovsky Institute of Virology in Moscow. Antibiotics were not found to be effective, but vaccination resulted in reliable prevention. Vaccination against smallpox was routine in the United States until 1972. At this time, with few people having experienced exposure to the organism and few having received the vaccine, release of the variola virus could have catastrophic results.
Symptoms include high fever, backache, headache, malaise and prostration. A maculopapular rash spreads over the body with a predilection for the face and arms with involvement of the palms and soles.
All contacts require isolation and immediate vaccination. Contacts of contacts should also be vaccinated. Vaccination given within four days of exposure may decrease the severity of the disease or possibly prevent it. Any case of smallpox should be reported immediately to the CDC and to the FBI.

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