combined with his experience of polio and his experience at warm springs that allowed him to both understand suffering from the inside out and to really experience people who welcomed him at a time when polio was such a tricky disease that polio victims were often ostracized and yet it was the poor people of warm springs who really welcomed him in ways, so that is one answer. the political science answer is probably a little more cynical. barry goldwater was once giving advice to richard nixon, and that's her horrific, nation. and when asked how would you build a coalition, goldwater said don't -- [inaudible] if you want to get elected find the votes and abraham lincoln is the guy who said god must have
loved the poor people he made so many of them. if you want to get elected the democratic party, they have got body. they have got no money and they have got new resources and like will rogers says they are not organized. you will have big chances of you can bring in the new immigrant groups, african-americans who at that time were voting only in the urban north and always for republicans. i don't know if that actually help. other questions? [inaudible] [inaudible]
>> all those ducks. [inaudible] >> okay, i did not know that. [inaudible] i'm going to get this wrong so this is completely unfair. you said there were concerted efforts made by the roosevelt administration that would allow soldiers overseas to vote which would have courts have included african-americans although not specifically targeted at african-americans in the pointed out that the democratic national committee, the justice department, was helping to overcome the white primaries in the south. that would be seen as suspect had her lack of success. , pure. to a microphone so people can hear you. >> the justice department
offered limited help when they were fighting in the white primary in the decision on the supreme court. >> thank you. i could never have done that. yes, sir? >> this falls a little bit on the gentleman's question. spring forward after roosevelt administration lot allowed people could have argued that his policies and attitudes contributed to that. and it has become a definite part of our national identity and i'm wondering if that was intentional on his part? was his vision to create the great middle-class that ended up coming forward? speier no i don't know that he would have understood it in those terms. the middle-class is so much more current in our time.
i never saw a phrase like that in the documents at the time but i do think that he felt very strongly that every person in this country have the right to a living wage and the right to have a certain kind of security, a small home, the ability to feed your family. those things seemed to him to be a fundamental -- and he would have called it a fundamental human right. it's interesting because he understood so many things in economic terms in the u.n. itself has so much difficulty over the question of economic rights. so there is a lot of interesting speculation as to what the u.n. would have looked like had roosevelt been there. thank you all so very much. [applause] >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. next weekend, down here on the
national mall, the national book festival will be taking place. this'll be the 12th annual booktv will be live both days on c-span2 but if you are in the area and you want to stop by and grab the booktv bag, come on down and see us. we will be by the history and biography tent. john wohlstetter talks about the threat of nuclear weapons today and what can be done to safeguard against the ultimate catastrophe. this is about an hour. [applause] >> good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and tank you for joining me today although i don't have summer cheer for you i'm afraid. i was thinking about how to start the speech and a fine english historian andrew --
wrote something in the opinion page for me and the title of it is, it's august, prepare for the cataclysm. we all think of august is the month where everybody is at the beach and sort of chilling out and even in this heavily political season, just enjoying life and for those of us watching congress is in recess which generally speaking means of a lot of lobbyists leave town so there's a lot less traffic. andrew roberts wanted to bring us back to a little historical realities over the last century among the peaceful events that have occurred, in august of 1914, world war i began. on the last day of four in 1939 hitler decided to invade poland the next day. in 1945 for two atomic bombs in
this very weak of 1945 led to the end of the second world war. in 1961 the berlin wall was put up in the middle of august. in 1964, the gulf incident which led to the major escalation of vietnam to place. in 1968 the prague spring was ended when czechoslovakia as it was known that was invaded by oppression's border and soviet tanks were rolling down the streets of prague. in 1981 at an event like full and so started the polish solidarity movement and in the 1990s saddam decided he should have 19, not 18 provinces so he moved into kuwait on the second of august in a 1991, just to make sure we grab things out, that was the revolution in
russia that brought down the gorbachev government, a short-lived one and of course the revolutionaries in charge a few days later were offended. so nothing ever happened in august sort of like the old credit card the movie eight years ago, grand hotel, nothing ever happens. we can offer lacks and enjoy the rest of the summer. that said, what i would like to do today is very briefly talk about why i wrote the book and what it aims to do. and then pick out three of the more pressing and problems. talk about them a bit and then wind up with overall some of the things that are particularly moving us toward global nuclear zero. i decided three years ago to
begin the process of writing this book. because it occurred to me that it was an opportunity that i don't believe had really existed in earlier decades. web strategist had in the immediate generation after the end of the second world war had to sort of get that, had to imagine scenarios in the abstract. what would happen if this and if that? now another half-century having passed since the cuban missile crisis, there is enough historical experience to enable us to look at the fundamental problems that nuclear weapons have posed in the 23rd century that they have been part since they changed the world forever. the first explosion in mexico, and therefore we can take an
integrated look at these problems of high-level look, delve into detail where necessary for illustration but present an integrated coherent set of problems and what lessons we can learn from them. there is an umbrella left, 12th lesson at the end that i come up with which is the fundamental trust of nuclear policy is to avoid what i called the apocalyptic trinity. the apocalyptic trinity is that of surrender. you always want to have non-apocalyptic choices and i will return to that a couple of times during my remarks. there is also a 13th lesson which is never write a book with more than three lessons. in any event with that i wanted
to pick out three areas of what i cover to talk about some of the illustrated problems that are particularly pressing and turned to the umbrella problems in a clear zero. i'm hoping that the book is useful to laypersons and a lot of policymakers who haven't had experience and perhaps here and there to those who have i try to bring this to the general public in a way that i think hasn't been possible before because now we have concrete examples to illustrate the abstractions. there are three problems i'm going to focus on today. the problem iran poses, the problem india and pakistan have posed with iran being the problem in the revolutionary state with nuclear weapons, the problem with pakistan and india being civilian energy as a
platform for getting to nuclear weapons and the third one specialized problem of small power vulnerability as evidenced by what is called electromagnetic pulse and i will talk about that from the get to it and the implications for missile defense. from then i will move on and conclude. in the case of iran which i think we could say is every now and then in the news and i saw yesterday the story about the up over surprise. the fundamental problem here is the possibility of a cuban missile crisis in the middle east and to understand this we briefly go back to what khrushchev had in mind.
khrushchev in 1961 met in june with president kennedy and vienna and he pushed kennedy around. kennedy himself said later, he really beat me up. he decided that kennedy was not up to it and kennedy said what the the possibility, and i am paraphrasing without the transcript in front of me, what about the possibility of miscalculation. khrushchev said i don't want to hear this word miscalculation. i'm tired of hearing it. in 1961 khrushchev decided mainly because of the summit to push kennedy a little further so what he did was, working with the east german leader they began to go to war which was a
violation of the -- which gave full access to all parties. then we saw the second shoe drop in october of 1962 which many of us lived through. i was 15 years old. the jocular conversation on the school bus at that time was significantly more subdued for the couple of weeks. it was very real and of course we didn't find out until later how close we came to a war. then what we saw was kennedy and khrushchev realized right off the bat that there was a possibility that this thing would get out of hand. khrushchev told his son sergei, he will make more of a fuss and then agreed. i think that was khrushchev's's calculations. a couple of years after that --
>> now you've got in close proximity, hundreds of miles away in some cases, with supersonic jets, in bases that may be vulnerable, small countries where even a small number of nuclear weapons can obliterate them. there was no hard line in 1962, that was bad enough, but when the soviets wanted to send a message to moscow, they gave it to western union and hoped the kid didn't stop to see his girlfriend on the way to the office. [laughter]
it was very much a catcher's catch can, and if you have four or five people with nuclear weapons, all worried, no mar gyp for error, it's scary to say the least. ultimately, the only resolution is to stop iran from getting nuclear weapons, and a rev -- revolutionary state does not honor, and you need regime change brought about from within, get positive regime change, but the lesson out of this,ed broader lesson is revolutionary power, you can't negotiate away revolutionary power position. you have to defeat them. in 1962, though, we saw the consequence of miscalculation, and you can easily have one here so that war may come about not by design, but all it takes is one mideast castro who is ready
to have one, and you heard some of the pronouncements of ac ahmadinejad, or the supreme guy, and they may not read from the same hymn book we are to say the least. with regard to india and pakistan, you learn that civilian nuclear george is next to nuke lap capability, and here's the math for nuclear proliferation. you look first at 3.5% enriched uranium empowering the reactor. okay, full weapons grade is 93.5%. they're not that far along. actually, it can be shown, and i show this in the book, i don't want to go through the math. we don't have even that, but it's simple when you see it on paper. you are -- you've done 80%, not
18%, but 8-0 percent of the separation work, in separating the uranium you want from the rest of it from 238, and when you got to 3.5%. when you get to 20%, 19.75%, medical grade research, you've done 97% of the separation work. so that just goes quickly, if one out of every 140 atoms is the isotope you went, and you get to one out of five, the medical research grade, you got rid of -- at 97% or 96% of the separation's been done. you got rid of 135 unwanted atoms. you're just about there. there are a couple of rules that relate to this, and, i guess, i
unconsciously channeled herman cain because my rules -- i don't have 9-9-9, but i have 1-1-1, and 10-10-10. it's there about in the end, and it's bar napkin, but it's easier to remember than 15248 and so on. the first one, the 11-1-1-1 is the time line. it takes approximately 11 months, and, again, these calculations are in the book -- 11 months to go from uranium ore to enriched uranium. it then takes about a month to go from enriched commercial to medical grade, about a week to go from medical grade to weapons grade, and about a day to put the weapon together. the fat man device was assembled
on an island in less than 24 # hours. that's one. now, another is 10-10-10. this is materials equation. if you start with 15 metric tons of uranium, after three reiterations you end up with 15 kilograms of enriched ewe urani, starting with the uranium ore, and that's enough to fuel a reasonably designed uranium weapon. you go through 10-fold reductions to go from uranium ore to uranium for nuclear power. you go through another 10-fold reduction for medical grade, and then another 10-fold for commercial, and you have the fuel for a bomb. there are a couple things that give you an idea of what you are
dealing with here. sorry, the fourth 10 in that is the difference between a crudely designed uranium bomb, which needs about 6 # 0 kilograms, 140 or so pounds, of enriched uranium to plutonium bomb, estimates lower than six kilograms, but that's a conservative one. there's estimates that are four and even lower. that's for a well designed plutonium bomb. you've got these fundmental metrics this are working, and another one, and this one is a good news, bad news thing, but the bad news is worse than the good news, and that is if you have a crude nuclear device -- actually, it could predetonate, and most of the yield would be gone. in any sequence of doubling, and what you are doing when you
get -- i don't want to go into, you know, there's more of it in the book, but basically what happened is as you split these atoms, you more than double the neutron count, and the neutrons that are going to be the ones that are going to be bombarding the nuclei, and you go through doubling, and it's like the thing on the chess board where the king puts one piece of wheat on the first one, and, you know, race to the challenge, and by the time of the first 32, his king is fine, broke long before they get to the end of it. the last four doublings in any sequence release 95% of the energy, if you have an 84 doubling sequence, they release 1% of the energy, and the next ten released 4%, get you to 5, and then you get 95% of the energy, half of it in the last doubling. that sounds like if you get a bomb that predetonates, well, it's a dud; right?
we don't have to worry. well, here's the bad news. the bomb that destroyed the world trade center -- sorry, that went off in the garage in 1993, was about two-thirds of a ton of conventional explosives. at 1% of a hiroshima bomb, you release 200 times the energy of that bomb that had it been placed better would have toppled one tower on another. in other words, it's going to be a terrible mess. there's a lot of terrorists out there who say they don't need a rolls royce. the last thing, and this is something that also pertains to iran as well as other contexts. they are talking about, well, iran does not have a missile to put this on yet, and that's true. we don't know that the lockertree is doing better than
north korea. north korea may have to go back to rocket camp, which does not disstress me in the slightest, and in the case, however, the iranians, they are having pretty good success, and that comes down to miniaturizing your warhead enough to it'll fit inside a missile nose, a bomb, not too heavy to be carried by an aircraft, or if you are really advanced, as a small number of nations are, inside an artillery shell to use in tactical battlefield. what have we been talking about since 9/11? the focus has been called aggression law of the unconventional threat. you can say "unorthodox" or "nontraditional" so you don't conflate traditional with nuclear weapons. it's the bomb in a shipping container. it's a bomb in a van. it does not have to be a
well-designed device that can fit in a missile warhead. it can be a crude gun trigger device that we didn't test because we know it would work. south africa built them in the 1980s. they never tested it. they know they work. you put that inside a van, and you set it off. you put it in a shipping container and set it off in a port. why are we looking with iran about weapons capability when a device, and device is used to indicate something that cannot be weaponnized to fit on a missile, a warhead, or a shell or something like that, when that is a part of the threat. if a bomb goes off in manhattan harbor, it's a hiroshima bomb that kills a few hundred thousands people. we may not even have the signature. if it's never been tested, we don't have a signature for an
iranian bomb. how do we know where to retaliate? so that has to be -- that's a much shorter time line than getting to where you put it on a missile. when the administration talks about that, it makes me nervous because the focus of what we've been talking about since 9/11 is something quite different. the third one to talk about briefly is electrical magnetic pals. i don't want to repeat details in the text, but basically, you set off a nuclear weapon at high altitude and paradoxically for this purpose, as i note in the text, it's better suited than a hydrogen bomb. you set it off at 300 miles over kansas, and it is possible in a worst case that the infrastructure of the continental united states with the radius of 1470 files could take down the infrastructure,
and we would be back to what life was like before thomas eddison. well, there are disputes on this, some people say, maybe only 20% or 30%. it would be a huge event, and there's also another possibility to come up with in a talk when i heard jim talk in the spring. what dough -- do you do if you have a solar storm as powerful as 1859 that can blitz out the entire infrastructure? how do yo negotiate with the sun? you know, for those who want to negotiate away this threat. at least the iranian threat, missile defense can, if properly deployed, can enable us to shoot down a small attack of this kind. the current generation of missile defense is not designed to shoot down a trajectory that
goes up like this, but rather in mid course so we'd have to work on it, but you'd have a picket fence to try to prevent a catastrophic strike at the same time invest a few billion dollars to get back up your electrical systems, could be several years before a major transformers are brought back online. the lesson out of this is that catastrophic vulnerability, low number of catastrophic as a rule -- as a-- vulnerable is something to avoid if you can. civilian energy is right next door to a nuclear weapons program in terms of putting it together, especially if you're not trying to get an elegantly designed device which brings me to nuclear zero, and the administration floated earlier this year a proposal to cut as low as 300 weapons from where we
are now, and the administration said, well, you know, this is -- we have not decided, but they are trial balloons as we call them in washington. now, this is based among other things, minimum deterrence belief, all you need is a small number of weapons. well, here are the problems with that. first of all, you assume everyone else thinks like you. this is what's called mirror imaging in the trade. look at what happened in 1973 when 11 years after the cuban missile crisis, there was a middle east war, the yom kippur war went on for three weeks in october, and towards the end of it, they decided to try to see if they could introduce soviet troupes in the middle east, sending down planes to fly into
the air space. we warned them not to. the naval ships were eyeball to eyeball with the russian fleet, and in a transcript that was released about ten years ago by henry kissinger in a book called "crisis," a conversation with president nixon, says to him, you know, we were close to a nuclear con froppation today. now, what changed since 1962 was that american superiority had shung. the russians were five years from passing us in numbers of of nuclear weapons, but they were already feeling earlier, the general secretary told a party conference in prague that by 1985 the correlation of forces shifted irreversibly in the soviet union's favor, and we can work the wealth. that did not approve to be a better forecast than in 1961, but the point is, it's not whether you think the weapons
matter, nuclear balance or changes in it matter. it's an operational question. if one or more parties to a crisis think that it matters, and behave differently as a result of changes, they matter. at minimum, it raises the risks in a crisis. at maximum, it could, although it didn't in 197 #, could end a crisis to end differently. when we look at china, and we are assuming china is not in a time of a huge military buildup, the soviet 25-year build up in the early 70s and 80s, china pushes predominance in the western pacific that if they see us go down to a low number of weapons, they have more weapons than us, they may change their behavior in a crisis, and it doesn't matter whether we think it should matter or not. to have a debate, an abstract debate of what has been called at times nuclear theology or whatever you want to call it,
nuclear doctrines, doesn't matterment if they think differently an act on it, that could increase the risk of war. with this in mind, bear in mind that the people who worry about the best are going to -- knot going to follow your example as you reduce it. it makes their weapons more valuable. we don't have the ability to have any idea to verify how many weapons exist in countries the size of china or russia. we couldn't even find before -- after the gulf war and before the second iraqi war, we couldn't find all the wmd we were looking for. these things are hard to do. the end of the iraqi freedom, we found 12 jet planes buried in the sand. you don't think you can bury cruise missiles a mile down? we don't have any ability to find the stuff.
if there's a breakout, there's no substitute for nuclear weapons r and nuclear weapons were one of the things that detoured a major full-scale war. you had major regional conflicts like vietnam and several in the middle east, and we don't have a substitute. some of the prom innocent former secretaries of state and defense who are pushing the idea of nuclear zero make it quite clear they are looking far in the future and a lot of things have to be in place before we do this, but it's possible that popular opinion could, as has happened from time to time, stampede governments into doing things they are not ready to do. for example, one time, it was for the better to end atmosphere testing, and it was popular outrage over some of the early tests or after effects and to worry about them that led to the ending of the atmospheric testing, but on the other hand, the europeans try -- who we had
promised to deploy the so-called neutron weapon, neutron bomb to stop russian tanks and stake his administration on it, and carter reversed it under pressure, there was a propaganda campaign mounted gips it. popular opinion can stampede governments if they are not able to explain why we shouldn't do something, and nuclear zero has a warmth to it, but the risks of prematurely going to zero and finding yourself with the worst countries in the world producing formally hidden weapons is the problem of the catch called by the great herman con, something we had better keep in mind, and until we have a solution to the problem, rushing towards nuclear zero could prove to be catastrophic. i close with this.
two things. one on the downside and then one thing on the upside. the downside is that it appears that the risk of some sort of nuclear use is growing, and if that threshold is crossed, it'll change the world again, and it may not be possible to go back. we may be permanently worse off. the administration does not appear to be fully alive to this risk. it is not doing everything it can to stop iran as one example. we could go into that in the question period if you'd like, but we could be -- at the end of the second world war, it was thought by policymakers, members of the public, and the scientists who worked the manhattan project that it was inevidentble within a decade, virtually inevitable we'd be in a nuclear war. it didn't happen.
to borrow from mr. churchill, never give in on this one. petal to the metal to prevent this catastrophe from happening and avoid not only suicide or genocide, but also surrender. we don't want to be in that position. we don't want to be in a position where with a half million americans dead and an american president has to decide do i want to unleash against iran or another country if we're able to establish an attack that will kill millions? all out attack on iran kills 50 million, the total of the second world war dying within 30 days. i don't think frankly, million dead americans and an american president could do that, but the point is, you don't want to be in that situation in the first place. it's avoiding apocalyptic options and preparing something short of that. with that, i think it's a good
enough time as any to stop, and i'd be delighted to answer questions, and i'll ask steve, with a shaper eye than me, to pick people out. thank you. [applause] >> i hope you are all feeling cheery. [laughter] we are going to take questions, and tessa will hand the microphone around. bruce? >> john, i think that's really important that this book came out at this point, and if nothing else, that people are aware of nothing else, it's that this topic of nuclear strategy has been dropped as a major theme in american public policiesings since the reagan era when people were lulled to sleep thinking that we had solved this and moved on, and now it's back. the emp has not been solved apparently, that threat has not
been solved, and we don't know what we're doing with iran. i think it's important to get people recovering the vocabulary and the language for even talking about this. it's not taught anymore. nuclear strategy is not taught anymore in the universities. we don't have programs of it. i think that's the most important thing you've done with the publication of the book. i want to ask you specifically about the most immediate threat which is iran. if -- if it takes so little time to come to the development of a crude bomb, vice president they done it? does anybody know? they are talking bravely about annihilating israel, doing various other things, but why vice president they moved -- haven't they moved if they are that far along and if it's so easy? >> well, it isn't easy, but on the other hand, part of the problem is even with all the
inspections, we don't know exactly how far they are along. they could theoretically at least on the amount of being short order by some calculations before the end of the year have enough material on hand to assemble a crude weapon, and if that's the case, they could assemble one without testing, and we wouldn't know. the only hope i have on that is that from iran's stand point, it is more beneficial to them to test like north korea did, and immediately we put the world on notice that we have something. mind you, north korea's test was a classic case of one of those designers embarrassment. it yielded less, and would be laughedded at in a designer fraternity, but there was more
circumspection in dealing with it. think of what iran did last year, when it's believed not to be nuclear, and not simply because i believe it's in their interest to test. they don't have to test atmosphereically. they can set off one, and we'll pick up the signature size -- seismically. it's different from an earthquake because there's tremors. with a nuclear device, it's a big boom and back like this, and nothing happens. you can find those things, and certainly from their stand point, it would be in their interest to do so. a year ago, we exposed a plot to their shock where they were going to set off a bomb in a georgetown restaurant in effort to kill the saudi ambassador in a georgetown restaurant. i took that one extra personally because living in dc, i go to
restaurants in georgetown. [laughter] so they also talked about putting something in front of the saudi embassy. i took that permly because i live across the street from the saudi embassy, and there's no scenarios if a bomb of any power goes off there under which the structure is likely to be standing. i mean, talking about something that's just a few hundred yards away, that's like a truck bomb going off or something so they were ready to do that even when they were not on what we know as a nuclear state. now, they could do that and then say, hey, guess what, we're nuclear. don't believe us? try us. the bottom line is that we, right now, should not be negotiating with them at all. they have a consistent record of using negotiations to stall for more than a decade. this is charlie brown and the football for the ump's time. what you want to do is put all of your sanctions' pressure on there, the highest level of
financial, energy, and refining *6 -- 60% of the oil has to be refined outside the country. you choke them off because if you don't do that, they have time to adjust to each new level of sanctions like gradual escalation in vietnam. makes noceps to do it this way. when sanctions first proposed on iran back in 2003, they did not have a compatible railway system with russia. a few years later, they did. we give them time. this is not ad good thing. there's a long list of what the international atomic agency has discovered, and i won't do the full list, but a few things that tell you what their program is about, and mind you, ie -- iaea inspections are not designed to catch cheatings, but what do they expect?
they are working on neutrons to start a nuclear explosion. they are working on building intercontinental ballistic missiles for which there's no known commercial application. they are not doing it to deliver medical supplies 5,000 miles. there's various other components, specialty components that are identified with nuclear weapons. why would you want a high altitude trigger? just the thing that used in nuclear devices. they want an air burst. we should conclude and nevermind this about whether they have a weapons' capability, a nuclear capability could be the device that goes in a truck. they are working on it on every evidence that we can see, and, therefore, we need to act very soon, and i think israel will act, and probably before the
election. >> [inaudible] >> yeah, that's very soon. i think the reason, frankly, bruce, that israel is likely to is because of the two handed scrits phrenic policy of this the administration. obama's people point all the time to look at the unprecedented defense cooperation and missile defense and other things with israel, and it is unprecedented. well, it's precedented because the bush administration before hand had begun that ratcheting up of cooperation with the israeli defense forces after 9/11. that cooperation is a two-way street. the israelis designed equipment that saved american lives in afghanistan, and, indeed, though they have self-sealing bandages, one of the reasons, you know, that saved lives of the people who have been hit improve wound healing. it's a two-way thing. they are constantly talking, swapping tactics, things about
drones, and so a lot of good things there. we are pressured to free settlements, something the palestinians never asked for. it's a new notary public-negotiateble demand. israel was told to negotiate from the 1967 borders which are the 1949 cease fire lines that are not borders, and the palestinians immediately adopted that. there was a series of leaks in the spring about an israeli strike showing up in the "new york times" and some traced to the officials in the administration, and there were things about a strike not working, things about, well, israel may get help, not used before the strike, few if a plane crippled in the attack, might be able to land there, that kind of a thirng, and that immediately was frozen out. there was a series of leaks, not
going down the full list, and so the israelis withdrew assurance they gave last year to notify the administration before striking. you have all of the leaks in the paper. does anybody think they can keep a secret? there were other leaks involving other things that the administration has done with the israelis looking at a british mole, al-qaeda arabian peninsula. there was a mole high up. i don't know it was an iraq, but one we hit, and bragging that we did that, we had to extra kate the agent before he was found, which we did, but the british were not happy. long and short of it is that they fear, i think, and, you know, it's also famous that prime minister benjamin netanyahu and president obama don't plan joint vacations in the foreseeable future, and so i think they are looking at pre
november 6 because after if obama wins, he's unbound. he doesn't have to worry about re-election, and i think frankly, that's the real line that's most likely to be one the israelis are looking at. if they knew romney wins and confident they could wait until 2013, they'd rather do that because the u.s. would probably join in. that's a chance i don't think they feel they can necessarily take so they will take a fresh look, i think, in early object. plans are in place, and they have a higher opinion of their chances of success than the obama administration has or other quarters. >> i'm skip, one of the board
members here at discovery institute, and i'm engineer, and i have a little bit of expertise in commercial nuclear power. i think it's important to understand, and i don't think you're saying this, but it's important to umps that in order to destroy israel or even tel-aviv for that matter, it's going to take multiple thermonuclear weapons, and none of the terrorist regimes have z capability of developing or delivering anything on that scale. i think the worst case scenario is going to be some cheesy science project dirty bomb or something with low yield that you float into seattle harbor or whatever on a container ship or something like that or tel-aviv harbor or whatever so there's no, like, destroy the world scenario that's likely in my opinion with any of these
terrorist regimes, and i think it's important for people that don't understand nuclear weapons to know that, to realize that. so the thing that occurred to me was you were saying that if we had such a thing happen, like a hiroshima type little boy weapon go off in a harbor or something like that, we wouldn't know -- at that time it's too late to know how to respond. where do you respond? i guess my question would be that's still the case now. how do we know where to respond? i guess, other than iran or korea, how do we know even how to begin to respond now while we think these guys are developing their science project weapons? >> well, let me take the last part first. we have nuclear forensics for certain countries. we know the signatures of the weapons from russia, former soviet union, those weapons, we
have signatures for chinese weapons. we have signatures for french weapons. we have signatures for british weapons, not that we think they are likely to use, but we have signatures -- may have some on india pakistan from some advanced sampling techniques. i'm not an expert on just how much you can get out of an underground explosion, but there may be some things that get into the atmosphere, small quantities, and you may be able to have some, and if there are, maybe we have a little bit out of north korea, but we don't with iran. the second thing is, now, it is nuclear weapons. i mean, a single hiroshima single weapon will, if dropped in an air burst, it will have a radius, what they call the five psi circle, five pounds per square inch of roughly radius should be roughly, let's say, a half mile going around, so it's
a mile in diameter, and while you wouldn't destroy all of the cities if you have three or four of those going off in tel-aviv, and you might have air bursts and ground bourses, and you do that -- bursts, and you do that because the ground bursts will kick up, you know, countless hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive material, highly lethal in the immediate area. the most intense radioactivity released is within the first couple of weeks. as you get further along, it's less dangerous, but you could have very easily a few hundred thousands fatalities in a country the size of israel. now, put that in perspective of the united states. let's assume, by the way, they leave jerusalem alone or they think they have enough accuracy to hit west jerusalem, they
will, that it doesn't hit somewhere else, but i might add if i was the palestinians, i'd be nervous. i don't know if i have enough faith in the iranian rockets fired by rockets, they might lain in the wrong place, but if you have that, and you have let's say 100,000 or 200,000 in each of the two cities, you have 300,000 or 400,000, we have about 45 times the population of israel. if you had, say, 200,000 dead from two or three bombs in those cities, you are looking at or even we'll go lower and say 100,000. let's just use -- looking at 9 million with 200,000 israeli dead, that's 9 million american casualties for our country which has 45 times their -- 40 times 8
million. the total we've lost in all wars going back to the revolution is something along the lines of 2 million or 3 million max or something. it may, actually, that may include wounded. i once saw the number, but it's not coming to me. it's a loss less than -- a lot less than 8 million. it would not lay everything to waste, but it would be a catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude, and, of course, then if you're talking about the gulf states, they are very as a vulne too. not a large number of cities in kuwait that would be targets. the bottom line is we have to take the threat very seriously. i might add that the pakistanis are working on thermonuclear weapons, and they have weapons advanced enough to put in short range artillery missiles, but 25-30 mile range missiles, 40 miles or something. seems like a pop give up, but the design work is very advanced
so i'd be worried. i think the effect on israel would be catastrophic, viewed as an echo of the holocaust, and, of course, the threats that they could explode elsewhere so even high school designed weapons, that was one of the points, they can make a terrible mess and we really need to focus on stopping them before they get there. >> i can evaluate your technical competence, that i leave to skip, but i think you are as a vulnerable on the human factor of how you see human nature in terms of making decisions as to whether how to use them. i want to return to your fidel example with jeffrey goldberg,
and i want to quote it exactly because that suggests perhaps a different reading in terms of rationality, irrationality, and purpose and so forth. he says, "i mentioned to castro the letter he wrote to the soviet premier at the height of the crisis in which he recommended that the soviets consider launching a nuclear strike against the u.s. if the americans attacked cuba invoking the legal right of self-defense, and i asked, at it certain point it seemed logical to recommend the soviets bomb the u.s.. what you recommend seem logical now? he answered after i've seen what i've seen and knowing what inn now, it was not worth it at all. " this could be read in the following way, far from being a cold-blooded first strike, it was the action of a desperate man who felt threatened who later on when he looks afterward
and sees the crazy things one does when one feels this kind of pressure, thinks as he says later that this raises questions about nuclear weapons as being much more likely to be launched in rational pressures and intense situations opposed to concrete attempts to obtain political objections. it's not a tool for radical policy, but released in a climate of fear, at least, that's the way one could read that section. now, castro has not changed. he's still a marxist. >> he is. >> between then and now, but what has changedded is his attitude about his own actions within the context of the crisis. >> i avoid calling him irrational. i use the term "fanatic" to finesse and leave to the doctors what's rational and irrational.
he recorded the request in the 1980s. the thing is that even in response to an invasion in the island, the idea of unleashing a nuclear holocaust bringing down, result in more than 100 million people killed just so he could preserve his rule, of course, the island would have been obliterated at the same time that i wouldn't want to hold that up as ad 340 elf rationale decision makes, and looking in the middle east today, the supreme guide who is the supreme authority at present in iran is not someone i i want to trust wh a nuclear decision, or for that matter -- >> [inaudible] rational decision making -- >> i'm not saying -- you use the word "rational and "irrational" burks i don't want to be a doctor. i just say we have reason to
believe that people like ahmadinejad and others like them may decide to use nuclear weapons whether if you want to make a cultural comment that this is their theology, and how can we say it's irrational. that doesn't matter to me. the point is there's people who have fewer inhibitions about using nuclear weapons. kennedy thought to pull back immediately when they realized he understood the meeting of the word "miscalculation," and castro did not take that view. we have to worry about that, and you're in the middle east where you have -- it's a famously rough neighborhood where people don't trust each other at all, there's not a superpower sponsor who could restrain like soviets did in 1962, who could restrain a surrogate, and so a client, and so the point is that you do not want to have