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Nuclear Policy

  • Cobalt Jackets

    Written by the late Paul Krassner, he wrote in 2003:

    Ethan suited up and walked into a triple- door sally-port, where he progressed through each airlock via ten-inch-thick lead-lined doors. Past the last door, he stepped into a massive room/warehouse, about 60 feet wide by 100 feet in length, with a 20-foot ceiling–huge for battleship storage-room standards. From the floor to the ceiling, thousands upon thousands of what looked like missiles were stored. It was weird, because he’d never seen missiles stored in such a way where they were on top of one another.

    The officer came around a row of missiles, and Ethan asked him the question he had for him about his TAD request, and then asked him, “What the hell kind of missiles are these?”

    “Those aren’t missiles; they’re cobalt jackets.”

    “What are they for?”

    “Well, this is ‘need to know,’ so keep your mouth shut, but they are designed to slide on over most of our conventional ordinance. They’re made out of radioactive cobalt, and when the bomb they’re wrapped around detonates, they contaminate everything in the blast zone and quite a bit beyond.”

    “So they turn regular ordinance into nukes?”

    “No, not exactly. The cobalt doesn’t detonate itself. It just scatters everywhere.”

    “Well, what? Does the radiation kill people?”

    “Not immediately. Cobalt jackets will not likely ever be used. They’re for a situation where the U.S. government is crumbling during a time of war, and foreign takeover is imminent. We won’t capitulate. We basically have a scorched earth policy. If we are going to lose, we arm everything with cobalt–and I mean everything; we have jackets at nearly every missile magazine in the world, on land or at sea–and contaminate the world. If we can’t have it, nobody can.

    “Just another example,” Ethan told me, “of what treacherous creatures our leadership is made of.”

    Terrifying shit. I can only imagine that not much has changed.

    Paul’s entire piece on the US Military’s use of radiated cobalt casings are no longer online at its original publication source, New York Press. But, it available for reading on the Wayback Machine. You can also peruse an interesting collection of writings about nuclear disarmament and policy, on this mirror and read the original piece here.