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By J. P. G. Freeman (auth.)

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Extra resources for Britain’s Nuclear Arms Control Policy in the Context of Anglo-American Relations, 1957–68

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By the time of the Bikini explosion the problem was reaching dangerous proportions as a result of nuclear detonations; the discharge of radioactive waste from nuclear reactors; and the increasing use of X-rays and radio-isotopes for medical and industrial purposes. There was, therefore, a general problem of radiation hazards, but the question of nuclear tests highlighted the dangers to entire populations rather than individuals and for purposes which in many scientists' eyes were far less justifiable than diagnostic X-rays.

Does the explosion signal have recognisable features by which it can be distinguished from other signals? What is the relationship between weapon yield and the signal produced at various distances? How many false alarms are there likely to be, and how are they related to the type and distribution of stations? And, can the seismic events or explosions be muffled or changed? Such factors were crucial to assessments of the value of any system of detection. 79 The Geneva experts in 1958 had given specific answers to the first three questions and reference has already been made to the last.

21 Further, on this basis Rotblat drew a number of significant conclusions. First, that in terms of war-fighting the explosion of such bombs would have disastrous effects for the whole world. e. 5 tests per year, would double the natural level of radiation'. Third, that the genetic dangers of continued testing were considerably greater than was usually stated officially. The US Atomic Energy Commission published a report on the 13 December 1955 which sought to allay public fear about such hazards by issuing certain carefully chosen figures (which were in themselves serious enough).

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