25| U.S. First to Target Nuclear Reactor (excerpt)

"Every target that we have attacked, be it nuclear, chemical or biological, we have very carefully selected the destruction means, okay, after a lot of advice from a lot of very, very prominent scientists."—Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, January 1991.

Suzy T. Kane

One fact of the Persian Gulf War seems to have been recorded in invisible ink: the United States is the first nation in history to have intentionally bombed an operating nuclear reactor.

When asked the Defense Department's position on the issue of nuclear reactors as military targets, Admiral Eugene Carroll of the Center for Defense Information was not aware that the reactor at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center in Iraq had been in operation at the time it was bombed. "It's a legitimate cause of concern," Carroll admitted. "Once a war starts, the value system changes and anything you can do to hurt the adversary and cause him problems, you find justification for doing."

The military advantage is obvious in the quip Carroll recalled hearing: " 'You don't have to take the bang to the enemy; the bang is already there when you take out his nuclear plants.' " 1

The reactor the U.S. destroyed at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center in Iraq, just ten kilometers southeast of Baghdad, was a small Russian-made research reactor typical of the kind found at Western universities (Berkeley, the University of Chicago, New York University have them). Vulnerable now as military targets are the world's other three hundred research reactors in addition to almost five hundred larger nuclear power reactors for generating electricity that could become deliberate Chernobyls.2


The full text of this chapter is available in the book, Metal of Dishonor. Link here for order information.




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