It occurred to me recently that I missed something important in a recent story.
In writing about the possible development and use of Iranian nuclear capability, I used American data and neglected to check to see whom they were likely getting their research from.
It turns out, it is the Russians.
No – not the friendly Russians who have embraced capitalism, while warning us in the United States, through the publication Pravda, that we were treading the wrong road, as we dance merrily into socialism. These are not the Russians I am writing about here.
According to recent news reports, Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu has delivered a special list to the Kremlin – a list of Russian scientists believed to be assisting Iran in the development of a nuclear warhead. Those are the Russians I am writing about; the nuclear scientists who are getting a sun-tan in Iran.
Why should that be important? It should be important because of Tsar Bomba.
You see, all those old black-and-white 50s films of children going through bomb drills, ducking under their wooden school desks – that just isn’t even in the cards. My most recent story about Ahmadinejad and Iran and nuclear hopes and dreams, talked about one mile ground zero areas and five miles of danger on the outside. If you’re in a school room and you’re somewhere outside of that, you might not be shredded or irradiated, but then again, you won't be real happy either.
Of course this isn’t a Nagasaki weapon or even a Peacekeeper or Minuteman we’re talking about. It isn’t even in the class of the most powerful weapon the U.S. ever produced, the B-41 detonated in Castle Bravo and yielding a horrific 15 Megatonnes due to an unexpected runaway reaction.
Nope. We’re talking about Tsar Bomba.
You see, the Russians had their own tests. And typical of our Cold War comrades, they simply had to do it bigger and better than us. So they developed Tsar Bomba – literally, “King of Bombs”
Soviet General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev initiated the project on July 10, 1961. He chose the development of the project to coincide with the development of the Berlin Wall and slated it to be detonated over the Novaya Zemiya archipelago Oct. 30, 1961.
The important thing to understand about this weapon is that it is not the warm and cuddly kind, previously seen in the world. In fact, this is the single most powerful device utilized in the history of humanity. Its’ three-stage design was purposefully hobbled by a lead tamper to reduce the force of the blast which could easily have approached 100 Mt.
Even so, Tsar Bomba, detonated at 11:32, just north of the Arctic Circle produced an estimated yield of 57 Mt. The fireball sweeping across the ground also reached near the altitude of the release plane. The heat could have caused third degree burns 100 km (62 miles) away from ground zero.
50 Mt (the conservative estimate of the yield) is 2.1×1017 joules, that lasting around 39 nanoseconds. That puts the total power of Tsar Bomba at approximately 1.4 percent of the power output of the Sun.
Hell on Earth.
According to news reports, Netanyahu brought his list of scientists to Uzi Arad. And whle his office claimed he was in Israel visiting a secret base, he was actually in a heated discussion with Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister and President Dmitry Medvedev.
Once again, the princes of understatement, our government experts here say they have long suspected such Russian “help.” And while it is a point of contention as to whether this is happening with Russian approval, it is not widely contested that this is actually happening.
Which means, sports-fans, that it likely is happening, and whether IAEA inspectors are given access to the “secret” Iranian base being built under a mountain at Qom, hardly matters. Because these guys are not starting from square one, like we were prior to using the A-bomb to bring about Japanese surrender in WWII. Instead, the Iranian scientists have a leg-up on the whole affair. They have Soviet science. And while the latest Iranian missile, the Shahab-3b can only carry a 2,200 pound warhead and the Russian release from a Tu-95V bomber boasted a huge, heavy weapon, far too large for the Shahab, that was more than half a century ago. They've gotten better with practice. In fact, only a year later, Dec. 24, 1962, the Russians were able to get a 50 Mt device to work on an ICBM missile platform. They reduced the yield again - this time to 24 Mt, to reduce fallout. But any of these layer-cake weapons could easily yield as much as 100 Mt.
And a Shahab could also easily reach our troops in theater.
The scientists who developed Tsar Bomba, and proceeded with the test included Julii Borisovich Khariton, Andrei Sakharov, Victor Adamsky, Yuri Babayev, Yuri Smirnov, and Yuri Trutnev. Sakharov is often referred to as the “father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb,” but he is also well known as one of the 20th century’s most unrelenting champion of human rights. He hated the thing he helped create and is known to have said of the bombing of Hiroshima, “On my way to the bakery I stopped to glance at a newspaper and discovered President Truman's announcement... I was so stunned that my legs practically gave way. There could be no doubt that my fate and the fate of many others, perhaps of the entire world, had changed overnight. Something new and awesome had entered our lives, a product of the greatest of the sciences, of the discipline I revered."
His design, Tsar Bomba, was also referred to as the “Layer Cake.”
"When you see all of this yourself, something in you changes," said Sakharov. "When you see the burned birds who are withering on the scorched steppe, when you see how the shock wave blows away buildings like houses of cards, when you feel the reek of splintered bricks, when you sense melted glass, you immediately think of times of war... All of this triggers an irrational yet very strong emotional impact. How not to start thinking of one's responsibility at this point?"
Sakharov was of course, fired from the weapons program. His increasing outspoken attitude got him exiled to Gorkii in 1980. In 1986, Mikhail Gorbachev brought him back to Moscow. On the day he died, in December 1989, he made another speech before the Soviet Congress. He was found dead in his study.
Sakharov or anyone like him, are not training the Iranian scientists. You can be sure that people who have a much smaller problem with conscience, are doing that. And someone needs to find those individuals and “lift them cleanly from the pages of history,” before they get the chance to make that same fate possible for thousands if not millions of others.
Because there is no such thing as a “limited nuclear exchange.” And "World War" is called that, because it drags the whole world in.
Ephraim Sneh is a former Israeli Defense Minister. He is notable because of a recent quote. Sneh said that “if we are left alone, we will act alone.” The deadline Sneh says is Christmas. If nothing is done by then, Israel will strike. What do you want to bet that Iran is planning a surprise of their own? What nice presents to leave lying under the tree.
Sixty-two miles - third-degree burns. 52,000-times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima - that's the kind of technology we're really looking at. The Hiroshima drop killed 140,000 people. Whatever a modern bomb generates in power, you're probably not going to escape it.
So, for those who wish to believe that God will intercede on Israel’s behalf, I must say that I would prefer that bit of direct terrestrial assistance sooner rather than later, because we don’t have a very good track-record as humans and tend to do some remarkably dumb things.
Like lighting off a weapon nearly 1.5 percent the power of the sun itself.