'If I had known, I would have been a watchmaker'
Albert Einstein 

At the beginning of the Second World War, the bombing of civilians was regarded as a barbaric act. As the war continued all sides abandoned previous restraints and its end came with the instant incineration of 70,000 people in Nagasaki. A further 70,000 died later from the effects of the bomb.

40 years later, in the deep freeze of the Cold War and the promise of 'Mutual Assured Destruction', the world's nuclear arsenals contained enough bombs and warheads to kill everyone on the planet many times over. 'Overkill' was the name given to this madness.

Today while there are fewer nuclear weapons than at the height of the cold war, more states have them and even more seem to want them. Britain while not forseeing any use for its nuclear weapons plans a £57 billion 'modernisation'.

10 years ago when the present Labour government came to power many of its senior members were CND members. Robin Cook who became its first Foreign Minister had this to say.

Each of Britain's four Trident submarines - Vanguard, Vigilant, Victorious and Vengeance - are capable of being equipped with 48 100-kiloton warheads that is, 192 independently-targetable nuclear bombs, each 8 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb.

'Nuclear weapons are not comprehensible: neither you nor I have any hope of understanding just what they are and what they do . . . So-called ‘facts’ about the Bomb are not facts in the ordinary sense at all: they are not facts we can relate to, get our minds round. Mere numbers, words.

Let me repeat a fact. The bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima killed 140,000 people. The uranium it contained weighed about 25 pounds; it would have packed into a cricket ball. 140,000 people is about equal to the total population of Cambridge . . .

I, for one, cannot grasp that kind of fact. I cannot make the connection between a cricket ball and the deaths of everyone who lives in Cambridge. I cannot picture the 140,000 bodies, let alone feel sympathy for each individual as he died.

We are each too human to understand the killing power of nuclear weapons.
Dr Nicholas Humphrey, The Bronowski Memorial Lecture.

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