Nuclear Winter Threat

Given the recognition of the fact that nuclear “deterrence” is unstable, in that,given an international crisis, each opponent is under pressure to strike first, Don Bates (Montreal) proposes a higher order deterrent which would guarantee devastation for aggressor as well as victim. His simple proposal is that missile silos be surrounded by large numbers of tanks of crude oil. A first strike against the silos would cause huge smoky fires and generate a “nuclear winter”.

Scientists gathered at the University of Toronto May 6 to assess the technical feasibility of the proposal, as well as its political, diplomatic and strategic aspects. The conferees agreed there is still a great deal to learn about the processes which could give rise to nuclear winter and much uncertainty in the data on which an assessment of feasibility would have to be based, so further study seems justified. A most important reason for undertaking serious consideration of the nuclear winter deterrent is to increase public awareness of the issues surrounding nuclear deterrence,SDI and the effects of global nuclear war.

Don Bates’ original proposal is to be found in the March/April 1986 issue of “Thoughts on Peace and Security” which he publishes at P.O. Box 608, Victoria Station, Montreal H3Z 2Y7. A summary report of the May 6 meeting is available from the Science for Peace national office.

- John Dove