World War II: Atom Bomb and Hiroshima Part 4

About the dropping of the Atom Bomb on Hiroshima in World War II, the first use of a nuclear weapon in war, a description of the aftermath.


WHEN: 1945

Throughout the discussions and disputations, as Compton would later say, "It seemed a foregone conclusion that the bomb would be used." The final decision was up to President Truman. When John Toland, author of The Rising Sun, asked him if he had done any soul-searching before deciding, Truman replied, "Hell, no. I made it like that," and he snapped his fingers in the air. To Truman the bomb was just "another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness." On July 24, 1945, from Potsdam, he ordered the bomb sent to the Air Force. On July 16 it was in Tinian. On the 27th the Japanese were informed for the 1st time of the Potsdam ultimatum threatening "utter devastation" or "unconditional surrender." In any event, the Japanese were already suing for peace through the Russians, who were not yet at war with them. Still, the bomb fell, ushering in a new era in troubled world history.

A-bombs, H-bombs, and all their thermo-nuclear relatives are today commonplace in our lives, if not in our consciences. The U.S., U.S.S.R., China, France, and India detonate versions of them in varying degrees of mega-tonnage and magnitude without constraint. England, Canada, and Japan use atomic reactors for civilian purposes while knowing that these facilities can be converted to the manufacture of atomic warheads and armaments on short notice. The bomb's secret, once the most closely guarded piece of military intelligence in the war, is now in the open. Anyone with a high school knowledge of physics and a basement laboratory can easily construct his own simplified, do-it-yourself atomic weapon. Internationally, though, it is claimed that another 12 aboveground explosions--tests or actual use--will irreversibly poison the earth's atmosphere. The hands of the "Doomsday Clock" that appears on the cover of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, founded after W.W. II by the men who made the 1st bomb, now stand at 3 minutes to midnight.

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