How much will you weight after nuclear war is over? Andrew Kudrin from Novosibirsk, Russia, CC 2.0 unchanged

he “Peaceful Atom” has transformed Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine into a nuclear war.

Like all nukes anywhere, Ukraine’s 15 operating atomic reactors are pre-deployed weapons of radioactive mass destruction. As a global threat to the future of human life on this planet, they have escalated this crisis to a danger level that parallels the apocalyptic US/USSR madness of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

As Putin’s troops penetrate the Ukrainian countryside, even a relatively minuscule attack on any of those power plants could blow out radiation far in excess of a nuclear weapon attack. They could (again) blanket Ukraine, Belarus and much of Europe with lethal radioactive fallout arriving in the United States within ten days. Their downwind death toll could dwarf Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Fittingly, the Russian assault quickly focussed on Chernobyl, whose April 26,1986 Unit 4 explosion blew out apocalyptic clouds that have since killed more than a million people worldwide.

The site’s other three reactors were closed by 2000. The Russians could threaten to explode the pit at Unit Four, now covered with a sarcophagus. Its seething wastes could blanket the region—-and much of the Earth—-with deadly radiation.

But Ukraine has fifteen other reactors Putin could obliterate with far more lethal impact.

More germain is that Chernobyl is now surrounded by a highly radioactive dead zone. It’s thus largely vacant of human life, making it a logistical chute through which an invading army could march with ease. As it’s close to the Belarus border and just 80 kilometers from the national capital at Kiev, that “hot” corridor would be a tempting assault route, especially for a dictator who doesn’t really care what kinds of doses his army absorbs.

More critical are Ukraine’s 15 operating reactors, which supply about 50% of the country’s electricity. The six nukes at Zaporozhe comprise the largest reactor site in the world. It’s about 100 kilometers from the Donbass region Putin has recognized as an independent breakaway republic. Any one of those nukes could be triggered toward a melt-down/explosion with a single missile (shot on purpose or by accident), or a relatively light land attack, sabotage of cooling or backup power systems, disruption of the electric grid, a threat to the operating crew or a cyber-attack meant to debilitate the control rooms at reactors which are nearly all more than thirty years old.

The impacts on global health would (again) be cataclysmic. A major study involving 5,000 research papers concluded that by 2007, Chernobyl’s worldwide fallout had killed at least 985,000 human beings. Radiation was detected in New England and at Point Reyes Station, north of San Francisco, where bird births soon after the explosion dropped 60%. Financial fallout topped a trillion dollars, with at least $250,000,000,000 each lost to both Ukraine and Belarus.

And it was all avoidable. In 1952 a federal study on the future of American energy predicted 15 million solar-heated homes in the US by 1975. That didn’t happen.

In 1953 the first photovoltaic cells were fabricated at the Bell Labs in New Jersey, giving the US a clear route to converting its electricity supply to rooftop solar panels…and to wind power, which was already rapidly advancing.

But that December, Dwight Eisenhower announced the “Peaceful Atom” at the United Nations. The Atomic Energy Commission, whose real business was nuclear weapons, promised electricity “too cheap to meter.”

The rest is history. We now get electricity that REALLY IS too cheap to meter from turbines in Texas that produce juice being given away free at night.

Yet throughout the world, we have hugely subsidized nuclear power plants that STILL can’t compete with wind, solar, batteries and LED efficiency ready to supply humankind with 100% green carbon-free energy.

We have nukes under construction in France and Finland that are years behind schedule and billions over budget…and can never come close in cost to true green power. Two reactors at V.C. Summer in South Carolina were just totally abandoned at a cost of $10 billion. Two more at Vogtle, Georgia, have topped $30 billion and may never open.

And now, in Ukraine, we see the total merger of the Peaceful Atomic with nuclear war. The smoldering ruin of Chernobyl has fused with the imperial power of the demented ghost of the USSR that built it. Germany, and much Europe, are still addicted to Russian gas it could have done without had it not wasted countless billions on errant nukes and gone much earlier to sustainable renewables.

Meanwhile Ukraine is hostage to 15 pre-deployed weapons of mass nuclear destruction that could blow at any moment, threatening the future of all human life.

In light of what’s happening there now, anyone who advocates buliding new nuke reactors, or prolonging the operation of those still precariously on line, need only look to the game of Ukrainian roulette Putin is now playing with the fate of the Earth to realize the truly Apocalyptic price of the anything-but-Peaceful Atom.

Harvey Wasserman’s PEOPLE’S SPIRAL OF US HISTORY is being published this spring at He co-convenes the Grassroots Emergency Election Protection Monday zooms at 5pm Eastern (

Original at Reader Supported News.