70 years ago today, the first nuclear device was exploded in Almogordo New Mexico. Robert Oppenheimer named the test “Trinity”, but folks working on the secret desert project called it “The Gadget”.
The Gadget was dropped from a steel tower at 5.30 in the morning. It had been raining earlier, and one can imagine the unique smell of the wet desert. When the bomb dropped it released an intense flash of light and heat, followed by the sound of a million cannons. It would be almost 20 years until Jerry Lee Lewis released “Great Balls of Fire“, but on this day with the power equivalent to about 21,000 tons of TNT, a great ball of fire was unleashed on the world.
The sight of the mushroom cloud rising out over the desert, unlike anything ever before created by humans, still causes people to gasp. The sheer power of the blast unlike any single bomb ever before created.
Watch it here
Using a weapon like this requires a plan to kill civilians. There is no way to restrict the impact of a nuclear weapons solely to combatants. The current (and near future) shape of wars already causes uncountable civilian casualties. Nuclear weapons cause untold suffering and catastrophic humanitarian harm.
Yet, somehow, they is no international instrument that makes them illegal. Somehow they have slipped through the development of international law and society hasn’t yet gotten around to banning them.
The time to change that is now. At the age of 70, the time has come for the bomb to retire. Retire from the arsenals and defence planning of the few. Retire so it can be returned to safely dismantled and destroyed components. The time has come to close the legal gap, and finally prohibit the development, production, testing, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer, deployment, threat of use, or use of nuclear weapons, as well as assistance, financing, encouragement, or inducement of these prohibited acts.
70 years is enough. It’s time to ban the bomb.