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The Cake Felt 'Round the World
September 8, 2010 10:54 AM   Subscribe

Less than a year after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States detonated the fourth and fifth nuclear weapons under the name Operation Crossroads in July 1946. Beyond testing the capabilities of nuclear bombs, the Navy said it wanted the Bikini tests treated like "the story of the year, maybe of the decade, and possibly of a lifetime." Only two of the three bombs were detonated, and the project was shut down over the next months. To celebrate the efforts of Operation Crossroads, a cake in the shape of a mushroom cloud was featured at a publicized event on November 5, 1946. In response to this display, Reverend Arthur Powell Davies, the minister of the Unitarian All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., gave a sermon on the "utterly loathsome picture" and the message it sent to other nations. That sermon set off a flurry of replies and reactions, that extended around the world, including a connection formed between Reverend Davies' All Souls Unitarian Church and school children in Hiroshima.

World War II was over, but the US military was not done with the atomic bomb. Testing continued, and The Bomb was new grounds for what some called "the war between the Army and the Navy." A joint task force, JTF 1, was organized on 11 January 1946, as an effort between Army, Navy, and civilian scientific personnel. Time Magazine ran an extended article on the operation, atomic weapons, and Albert Einstein, and there were a radio presentations were broadcast before and the day of the events. More than 100 members of various news agencies were allowed to watch the events, including three members of the British press, one each from Russia and nine other nations, and three artists to record the project (prev). After the events, Joint Task Force One even published the official pictorial record.

The celebration following the official end to JTF 1, including the notable cake, made national news, and Time Magazine provided a good summary of the concern:
These were probably the harshest words ever spoken of a dessert. But a lot of non-Americans (notably Britons) had long regarded the U.S. public's attitude toward The Bomb as callous to the point of idiocy. Although this interpretation did the U.S. an injustice, it had a certain justification. Some Americans, for instance, missed the point of Davies' tirade. Said L. K. Stephens, bakery supply salesman, who helped design and bake the cake: "We intended the cake as something to eat."
The concern of public image reached as far as the Secretary of the Navy, James V. Forrestal, who agreed that the display was less than positive, and wrote "people were becoming bored with such adolescent competitive publicity."

The publicity traveled to Japan, where Dr. Howard Bell, an official with General Douglas MacArthur's provisional government, read an article and contacted Reverend Davies. Dr. Bell wrote and described the plight of the Japanese children, who were without school supplies. The children of All Souls Church gathered half a ton of pencils, crayons, paper, erasers, paste, and paper clips, and shipped them to to Japan. In return, the Japanese children sent 48 paintings and drawings. The pictures toured the United States and were shown in Japan this year, when some of the former students saw their artwork for the first time in over 60 years. There is a documentary in the making (early trailer) that tells the story of the connection between the children in two countries.
posted by filthy light thief (62 comments total) 69 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, this is fantastic. Thank you.
posted by lunit at 10:57 AM on September 8, 2010


You know, I'm going to request a "trigger warning" for whiplash posts like this.

Good stuff, though.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:01 AM on September 8, 2010


The thief strikes again
posted by wheelieman at 11:01 AM on September 8, 2010


Nuclear weapons have proved to be a mixed blessing. There is little doubt that only the fear of nuclear armageddon prevented a full scale world war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the years of the Cold War, and that would have been a very destructive war indeed, since even conventional weapons get ever more destructive as military technology advances. But now that the Cold War is over, we have an ever increasing problem with nuclear proliferation, and the threat that nuclear weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists. The government of Pakistan recently issued a warning that the country may actually collapse into anarchy under the combined pressure of the recent flood and the continuing terrorist attacks - but Pakistan has nuclear weapons; what will become of them if the government of Pakistan ceases to be in control of its own country? Very disturbing. And then there's Iran, North Korea, etc. Many countries of dubious sanity have, or are in the process of obtaining, nuclear weapons. This could have very terrible consequences.
posted by grizzled at 11:04 AM on September 8, 2010


Another Cake Wrecks moment. They originally ordered a Bombe.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:04 AM on September 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


That's an impressive display of cakecraft.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:10 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


...but Pakistan has nuclear weapons; what will become of them if the government of Pakistan ceases to be in control of its own country?

I know a major world power that happens to have most of its military parked on Pakistan's doorstep. It's starts with "United States of" and almost rhymes with "hysteria."
posted by rusty at 11:15 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is great! Thanks!
posted by brundlefly at 11:16 AM on September 8, 2010


In a joke that totally proves I've missed Reverend Davies' point:

How come nobody commented on her mushroom cloud hat?

But seriously, and I am being serious here, this:

If I had the authority of a priest of the Middle Ages, I would call down the wrath of God upon such an obscenity. I would damn to hell these people of callous conscience, these traitors to humanity who would participate in such a monstrous betrayal of everything for which the brokenhearted of the world are waiting. But—perhaps fortunately—I have no such authority. And so I only pray that God will give me patience and compassion. That I may be just—and merciful—and humble. And still speak the truth that is in me.

made me cry and I'm not sure why.

Thanks for this post. Yet another "how did I now know about this moment" brought to me by Metafilter.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:18 AM on September 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


That is an incredible cake. I want one.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 11:19 AM on September 8, 2010


rusty: I too have heard about this major world power that has a large military force on Pakistan's doorstep; it has been searching unsuccessfully for Osama bin Laden for the past nine years, and who knows if it is capable of finding an errant nuclear weapon from Pakistan's arsenal. I would not look forward to Pakistan becoming the new Somalia.
posted by grizzled at 11:20 AM on September 8, 2010


Go Bombers!
posted by Artw at 11:20 AM on September 8, 2010


grizzled: Yeah, I meant that a failed Pakistan would not be allowed to become Somalia by either the US or India. There would be a full-on occupation, not a halfhearted "police action." Also there would be stupendous panic all over the place and it would probably be a hideous mess. One errant weapon would be the first but also the least of our concerns.
posted by rusty at 11:33 AM on September 8, 2010



and the threat that nuclear weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists.

Uhh. I think we already have nuclear weapons.
posted by notreally at 11:33 AM on September 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


I would damn to hell these people of callous conscience, these traitors to humanity who would participate in such a monstrous betrayal of everything for which the brokenhearted of the world are waiting. But—perhaps fortunately—I have no such authority. And so I only pray that God will give me patience and compassion.

That is a fine piece of criticism. The whole thing is pretty fine. Where are all the activist religious people now? did it end with Desmond Tutu or am I just not remembering?

These were probably the harshest words ever spoken of a dessert.

I tried to make apple crumble once. Didn't go well - my son said afterwards 'dad said we had to eat it because you made it with love'. Those were the harshest words ever spoken of a dessert.
posted by shinybaum at 11:34 AM on September 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


WinnipegDragon: "Another Cake Wrecks moment. They originally ordered a Bombe."

And considering the ethnically crass or ignorantly racially insensitive postings followed by a defensive in-apology that seem to pop up at Cake Wrecks fairly often, that metaphor is more apt than you might've realized.
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:40 AM on September 8, 2010


My father was on board the Enoree, a converted Chiwawa-class oiler being used for resupply purposes for this test, and was present during Operation Crossroads. I have his copy of the "official pictorial record," which certainly paints things in deceptively sunny hues.

Forty years after the fact Dad was contacted by the U.S. Government as they were seeking to determine what, if any, effect the testing had on those present. He commented that the questionnaires were rather extensive and time-consuming, but as he was retired and had time to kill he filled the whole thing in. Quite some time later he received a voluminous package of information, including his precise location at the time of the blasts and the incidence of illness among his fellow participants. He found all this oddly gratifying. "All I ever saw was the shock wave," he said of the actual test, "and some clouds."

Apparently he never had any health problems traceable to the bombs. However, when he and my mother elected not to have kids right away (they wanted to travel) and that was not normal in the late 40s, curious friends would occasionally ask when offspring would be arriving. Dad would smile and reply "I was at Bikini." Nobody ever questioned him further.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:42 AM on September 8, 2010 [13 favorites]


You know, I'm going to request a "trigger warning" for whiplash posts like this.

Maybe just a big one up in the header of the front page?
posted by hermitosis at 11:43 AM on September 8, 2010


Thanks for this - I live a few blocks from All Souls and know a bit about their tradition of liberal, activist clergy (one of their ministers, James Reeb was murdered in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement), but had not heard of Arthur Powell Davies.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:55 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you want to learn way, way too much about US military and civilian doctors subjecting Americans to radiation I recommend The Plutonium Files. The US did all sorts of things from feeding radioactive iron to orphans to marching thousands of soldiers through ground zero minutes/hours after explosions just to see what happened. What weirded me out was that some of the researchers discovered they weren't following the Nuremberg laws - you know, the rules created because of what the Nazis did and most of them kept on doing horribly unethical things until the 1970's. Cue the inevitable bureaucratic cover-ups and it's a wonderful overview of what happens when authority starts treating people like chattel.
posted by Dmenet at 12:04 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's yellowcake Uranium I can believe in.
posted by qvantamon at 12:05 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


JIM WAS PUSHED!
posted by clavdivs at 12:09 PM on September 8, 2010


These were probably the harshest words ever spoken of a dessert.

Time magazine has never had dinner with my kids, apparently.
posted by The World Famous at 12:16 PM on September 8, 2010


For those interested and in the DC area, the drawings hang in the parish hall for your perusal. Incidentally, current senior minister, Rev. Robert Hardies just returned from the anniversary memorial services in Hiroshima.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:19 PM on September 8, 2010


a cake in the shape of a mushroom cloud was featured

It's a nice touch that her hat looks like a giant tumor.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 12:20 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wonderful post. I wonder how the US media would respond to Ahmadinejad cutting a similar cake.
posted by benzenedream at 12:20 PM on September 8, 2010


Where are all the activist religious people now?

There are actually a lot of them out there. However, they do not enjoy the national spotlight so we rarely hear about the caring, liberal Christians. We, of course, hear no end abut the small-minded, bigoted, asshole ones. Which does a great disservice to a lot of Christians. I am solidly a-religious, full stop. One of my best friends is a minister, and what he preaches and what his congregation advocates for I can fully support. The only line of separation between them and I is the belief in a conscious higher power.

And that congregation are not the only such Christians (or Jews, or Muslims or...). Being non-religious I disagree with a fundamental aspect of their belief, but there are a lot of religious folks I would be proud to stand next to in the greater humanitarian struggle.
posted by edgeways at 12:23 PM on September 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


And that congregation are not the only such Christians (or Jews, or Muslims or...)

My family is from a peace church and know a lot of nice liberal vicars from anti-war and environmental demonstrations. I meant famous ones. I can't even think of one current one.
posted by shinybaum at 12:27 PM on September 8, 2010


Incidentally, current senior minister, Rev. Robert Hardies just returned from the anniversary memorial services in Hiroshima.

I saw that on their website, but it wasn't loading this morning and the cached version didn't seem to have any long-term links to that news tidbit for posterity. So, I'll copy the text here, for longevity:
All Souls in Hiroshima

Rev. Robert Hardies and five All Souls congregants were in Hiroshima, Japan for a commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the bombing of that city and for the opening of an exhibition of the Hiroshima Children's Drawings. The following is a pastoral letter from Rev. Hardies on the occasion.

August 6, 2010
Hiroshima, Japan

Dear All Souls Members and Friends,

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the United States’ bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima, an event that killed over 100,000 people, reduced the city to rubble, and inaugurated the atomic age. For the first time, we possessed the awesome power to destroy both our species and the Earth that we call home.

I, along with five All Souls members, have the honor of being in Hiroshima to commemorate this terrible event and to celebrate a seed of hope that was planted in its aftermath: the small but significant exchange of gifts of peace between the children of All Souls Church and Hiroshima’s Honkawa Elementary School.

Many of you know the story. Inspired by a call to action from All Souls’ minister, the Rev. A. Powell Davies, the children of All Souls in 1947 collected half a ton of school supplies—crayons, paint, and paper—to send to the children of Honkawa school. In appreciation, the Japanese children sent back beautiful drawings of Japanese life slowly returning to normal in the wake of the devastation.

In a moving ceremony last Saturday these drawings—recently restored—were reunited for the first time with the children (now in their 70s and 80s) who created them. They are now on exhibit at the Honkawa School Peace Museum and in the last week alone have garnered thousands of visitors and significant attention from the Japanese press. We are accompanied in Japan by filmmaker Bryan Reichhardt who is completing a documentary about the drawings and the relationship between All Souls Church and Honkawa School.

This has been a rich and moving week for our delegation. In addition to meeting with the hibakusha who created the drawings (hibakusha is the name given to survivors of the atomic bomb), we were warmly received by the current students and faculty of Honkawa school and other schools to whom All Souls sent supplies, we worshipped with our friends at the Japanese Buddhist sect Rissho Kosei-kai (longtime partners of Unitarians in international peacemaking), and at a memorial service last night for the Honkawa schoolchildren who died in the bombing, we were honored to be the only non-Japanese invited to lay flowers at the shrine to the dead.

I am reminded during this trip that relationships place upon us responsibilities. We have a duty to be morally accountable to the relationships we’ve entered into. I believe our relationship with the people of Hiroshima places a responsibility on us to continue to share the story of these drawings and to work for a world that is no longer threatened by the specter of nuclear annihilation. We are called to be peacemakers.

Our small group looks forward to returning to Washington to share with you the stories and images from our trip and to explore ways that, together, we can take up the responsibilities of this important international relationship. Personally, I look forward to returning to the pulpit on August 22 and celebrating Homecoming Sunday with all of you on September 12. And I wish you both love and peace on this important anniversary.

In faith,
ROB
posted by filthy light thief at 12:27 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


That photo makes me feel giddy. Whoa. Those Cold War warriors were not mucking around and If it wasn't the cover to a Dead Kennedy's single, it should've been.

In Las Vegas during the 50s, there were all sorts of drinks and entertainment places that had an atomic bomb theme to them and people would spend all night drinking there asses off, grab their gal (or guy) round dawn with some serious shades to watch the blast and light and the nuclear mushroom from the tests taking place 60 miles away.

Cocktails have never been the same since that era...garnishing your drink with a mushroom cloud has got to be the coolest....Daddy-O.
posted by Skygazer at 12:27 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Virtuoso post, sir.
posted by killdevil at 12:32 PM on September 8, 2010


Where are all the activist religious people now?

My church is pretty moderate, but we got on board to support recent civil rights legislation in our town for LGBTQ folks. I preached a pro-gay-rights sermon and wondered what kind of response I'd get from the congregation.
I used the origin of the classic Quaker phrase, "Speaking truth to power" as a metaphor for the current struggle over equality irt gay rights. I described how the Quakers had voraciously fought for nuclear disarmament in the 1950s, when it wasn't popular to oppose nuclear weapons. We should be strong and vocal Christians in opposition to the tactics of the far-right.

Anyway, I received a half dozen angry phone calls (as I expected). I sat in a half dozen living rooms, prepared to defend my sermon. To a one, the parishioners weren't angry about my civil rights message. They were angry that I preached against nuclear weapons - one even accused me of being willing to let the "Russians" roll right over us. Bewildered, I responded that "I thought this was about the gay rights thing!" to which they responded, "No one at this church gives a damn about that, this is about national security!" They were predominantly members of the Korean War generation. It was an interesting lesson.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:33 PM on September 8, 2010 [12 favorites]


Apparently he never had any health problems traceable to the bombs. ... Dad would smile and reply "I was at Bikini."
posted by kinnakeet


I met someone who had insider status in a certain ... underground market. A grey market? No, more like a glowing green market. There are a lot of soldiers and scientists who picked up souvenirs, some keep them in heavy lead canisters, most don't. I guess the goal is to trade pieces of what you have with others until your collection includes as many major sites as possible. More rare specialties, like of portable suitcase bombs, are prized as well as major historical ones.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:36 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where are all the activist religious people now?

All Souls Unitarian for one place.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:37 PM on September 8, 2010


I've long held the opinion that the Nagasaki and Hiroshima attacks are the most violent, and also most effective, incidences of monstrous terrorism that the world has ever known.

At the same time, I *LOVE* incredibly tasteless cakes.

I am torn.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:44 PM on September 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


But on the news? I'm barely old enough to remember the more famous CND types. There used to be famous politically active and social justice oriented religious people, I'm sure. Much as I could never stand Mother Theresa people let her on the news. I mentioned Desmond Tutu upthread. Everyone knew who they were.
posted by shinybaum at 12:48 PM on September 8, 2010


Just as I clicked post I remembered the Archbishop of York cutting up his dog collar on tv in protest at Mugabe. So they do still exist in watered down form. No-one seems to be setting themselves on fire these days though, and that's a good thing.
posted by shinybaum at 12:56 PM on September 8, 2010


I've long held the opinion that the Nagasaki and Hiroshima attacks are the most violent, and also most effective, incidences of monstrous terrorism that the world has ever known.

Yeah, they were pretty effective at preventing Stalin from taking any more territory in Manchuria or Germany. Oh, you meant the Japanese? The guys that were trying to get a meeting with the Allies as soon as the Potsdam Declaration came out and were stalled by "neutral" Stalin because of his secret aims on Manchuria?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:01 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


There has to be a word for the combination of pride and shame that building something like the atomic bomb must make one feel.

It's mankind's highest and lowest achievement, simultaneously.
posted by empath at 1:04 PM on September 8, 2010


Oh, you meant the Japanese?

No, the bombs were definitely dropped to terrify the Russians, at the monstrous cost to the Japanese. However, no matter which way it's sliced, it was still an act of terrible violence inflicted deliberately on a civilian population in order to sway public and political opinion.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:17 PM on September 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Anyway, I received a half dozen angry phone calls (as I expected). I sat in a half dozen living rooms, prepared to defend my sermon. To a one, the parishioners weren't angry about my civil rights message. They were angry that I preached against nuclear weapons - one even accused me of being willing to let the "Russians" roll right over us.

The... the Russians? Really?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:19 PM on September 8, 2010


My father was in the Navy, stationed in North Carolina, in the early '50s. One day, he and a bunch of the other sailors were packed into transport trucks, and driven for several days to a desert, where they were lined up in ranks. A flash of light followed by a mushroom cloud appeared in the distance, and they were ordered back into the trucks and taken back to North Carolina.

Apparently it was an experiment to determine the psychological effect of a battlefield atomic explosion on troops, to determine whether they would panic.

While he did die of cancer, I suspect it had more to do with his lifestyle than with that brief exposure to the bomb. I never heard anything about him getting a questionnaire on the matter.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:43 PM on September 8, 2010


The best documentary about that era ever. The Atomic Cafe.
posted by Bonzai at 2:15 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


The... the Russians? Really?

Yes, youngling, really. Maybe you've seen the end of Patton?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:17 PM on September 8, 2010


(the bikini atoll part begins around 11:00)
posted by Bonzai at 2:20 PM on September 8, 2010


Oh, you meant the Japanese? The guys that were trying to get a meeting with the Allies as soon as the Potsdam Declaration came out and were stalled by "neutral" Stalin because of his secret aims on Manchuria?

For Pete's sake, we just did this derail over here.
posted by Comrade_robot at 2:27 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty: "The... the Russians? Really?"

You sleep through the Cold War segment in history class?
posted by octothorpe at 2:30 PM on September 8, 2010


This is nothing compared to Chinese tests -- they sent human-wave attacks into their first nuclear test just after it went off, and even put gas masks on horses and had the cavalry charge toward ground zero (3:00 on).
posted by vorfeed at 2:37 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know if it is a derail per se, as it is related. It certainly is a very hotly debated issue, and probably one we are not going to resolve here. I know I have my opinion and have listen to both well argued and emotionally argued opinions counter to that and neither have changed my mind, as I suspect, my opinions haven't changed theirs.
posted by edgeways at 3:43 PM on September 8, 2010


The Atomic Cafe "best documentary about that era ever?" It's basically 90 minutes of lolcoldwar—a theatrical VH-1's I Love The '80s. Entertaining, but shallow as all hell.
posted by Lazlo at 3:45 PM on September 8, 2010


I'd rather eat a grenade launcher made out of baklava.

Or a predator drone made out of mochi.

Ah fuck it, just give me this thing.
posted by dgaicun at 5:43 PM on September 8, 2010


Baby Balrog said "recent", which is why... yes, why the fuck would anybody be seriously worried about the fucking Russians? I know quite a bit about the Cold War. I find it hard to believe that twenty fucking years later there's still people who are worried about it. Are they severely mentally damaged? Did they lose their ability to form new memories in 1987?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:49 PM on September 8, 2010


Pope Guilty: or did they?
posted by qvantamon at 6:26 PM on September 8, 2010


The Atomic Cafe "best documentary about that era ever?" It's basically 90 minutes of lolcoldwar—a theatrical VH-1's I Love The '80s. Entertaining, but shallow as all hell.

Are your time-frames mixed up?
posted by ovvl at 6:37 PM on September 8, 2010


I'm referring to the way the material is presented ("let's laugh at how stupid/naïve they were back then").
posted by Lazlo at 11:13 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


why the fuck would anybody be seriously worried about the fucking Russians?

Yeah. It's not like they have a gigantic arsenal of nukes or anything.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:39 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jimmy Havok, that's disturbing about your Dad, but not unsurprising. My whole family was shocked when my father received the original information packet from the Navy, as we'd all assumed Crossroads had faded into the distant past and that the government had no further interest, certainly not in an Ensign serving on a supply ship miles from the detonation sites.

It may be that the testing your father experienced was found to be of no value, or that such studies were abandoned. In any event it's an illustration of the indifference shown to so many individuals in the service, then and (doubtless) now. I hope your father never experienced any negative effects from this irresponsible exposure.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:43 AM on September 9, 2010


Yeah. It's not like they have a gigantic arsenal of nukes or anything.

Of all the nuclear-armed countries on this planet, Russia is not one that I'd be particularly worried about.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:38 AM on September 9, 2010


To be exact - You may not care much about the nukes currently in Russia's possession, but you definitely should care about Russian nukes. Specifically, those that ended up in unstable ex-Soviet republics, or smuggled across the border to the highest bidder, etc, etc.
posted by qvantamon at 2:14 PM on September 9, 2010


I would submit that, end of the cold war or not, with their nuclear arms, penchant for invading neighbors and unapologetic and fairly transparent assassination of political enemies on foreign turf Russia actually remains quite a worrying country.
posted by Artw at 2:17 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lazlo: "I'm referring to the way the material is presented ("let's laugh at how stupid/naïve they were back then")."

Interesting interpretation. Exactly the opposite of mine but interesting.

I've always seen it as "look how fucking scary it was."
posted by Bonzai at 4:33 PM on September 9, 2010


why the fuck would anybody be seriously worried about the fucking Russians?

To be exact - You may not care much about the nukes currently in Russia's possession, but you definitely should care about Russian nukes. Specifically, those that ended up in unstable ex-Soviet republics, or smuggled across the border to the highest bidder, etc, etc.

In this day and age, no. Back just before the fall of the iron curtain and the great intel dump that preceeded it, the US learned just how bad off the former-Soviet nuke program was financially. Warheads after all have to be regularly refreshed, replenished, and renewed to remain functional. With the financial collapse of the USSR, so went the regular maintenence of the arsenal. Though SDI is credited with bringing Gorby to the table for the START treaty, presentation of this knowledge by negotiators was partially why the Ruskies were so easily persuaded to "reduce" their arsenal (their arsenal was already reducing itself, why not get some sort of reciprocal reduction out of the Americans?). Things haven't gotten significantly better for the Russian government post-USSR, so while a defunct warhead is still a threat for stuff like dirty bombs or somebody wanting to disect its technology, it isn't really in itself going to spark The Day After.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:20 AM on September 10, 2010


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