Uranium 237 and the British bomb tests in Australia and Pacific

The discrepancy between the official dosimetry and the effects suffered by participants in the British nuclear weapon programmes of the 1950s and 1960s remains a major legal difficulty in the matter of the British test veterans, a remanent of which are slugging it out still in the British courts.

The Australians have only the Veterans Affairs provisions left to pursue, as I understand it. The dose and effects suffered here remaining a barrier to the granting of relevant pensions. (The Howard government made free cancer treatment available to test participants, the Rudd government making the VA processes easier (in practise I am told, it is as result much easier to get a “No you can’t get a VA pension for your radiaiton effects” letter from Veterns Affairs.)

One of the barriers in the British case (which surely, in general, applies to the Australian case) is the inability of the British government to release the fallout information from each of its bomb tests, because such information release to the veterans in open court would present “an aid to the enemy” (letter from British authorities to Dr Busby), (it gives clues as to the design of the bombs, though one wonders why an enemy would what to duplicate a 1950s British bomb. Osama bin Laden lived for years with taxi ride distance of the more modern Pakistani nuclear stockpile for example.) If a court defeat suffered by the British government is the enemy, well, it reduces the proceedings to self serving shambles. (As such have usually been.)

Another reason for refusal of such information was communicated to Dave Whyte earlier this year. Authorities in Britain wrote him that such disclosure would “create difficulties in Britain’s relationship with other nations”.

Hmm. Do they mean the effects of the tests? Or is there some agreement still in force from the time of Britain’s nuclear weapon adventures which would have consequences today should Britain spill some beans of information in the interests of providing remedy to aggrieved veterans? Is Britain an informational colony of another nuclear power.

I don’t know. However, I have always believed Britain and Australia have always been slower to release relevant than the United States. And so, in order to find essential truths, I have spent years consulting that portion of the US record which is available to me. That record which is cleared for public distribution, which offends noone and no authority in the United States and which may be freely quoted. I have learnt a large proportion of what I know from that record.

I was recently asked a question basically about what amounts to the “missing dose” suffered by nuclear veterans subject to British bombs. One might take the view that the dose estimate is accurate, but that dose effect maintained by British authorities is incorrect. The long standing argument regarding the effects of internal emitters – largely centred around alpha emitters, but from which one cannot exclulde beta/gamma emitters. The question was put to me in regard to the British H bombs, a subject I have not looked into in the past. There was one Tritium boosted fission test in Australia and that was it. I had no reason to look at H bombs. Given the suffering of the British veterans, given the claimed dosimetry suffered maintained by British authorities, given the availiabilty of relevant documents on secrecy grounds, where does one start considering the origins of the “missing dose”. It being beyond me to proprose model of dose response model which would render the admitted dosimetry, sufficient, in the government eyes, to render the suffering veterans eligible for the pensions they seek. (and in this matter changes to the law to allow that seem the fairest and most graceful option – but it is not to be. The legal contest commenced in earnest from the 80s. It is 2014. It is a cruel and wasteful imposition upon veterans in the final decade, by and large, of their lives.)

Here is what I have found in regard to U237 as produced by British bombs. (Thanks largely as usual, to Americans and the American record, but also to the Japanese record.) :

REFERENCE: U.K. National Archives: DEFE 16/411 “Determination of U237 production in Operation Totem”
by F. C. Hanna 1954. Report No N/M 68.

Contributor at Glasstone blogspot states:
“There is also data in a report on U-237 by Hanna of AWRE in the DEFE16 files at the U.K. National Archives for the two 1953 U.K. TOTEM tests at Emu Field, Australia, giving the U-237 production, which was low because they were pure fission shots. I don’t have my notes handy but from memory I think the U-237 production was only 1/3,000 atom per fission.” http://glasstone.blogspot.com.au/2006/03/clean-nuclear-weapon-tests-navajo-and.html While this does not refer to a fusion device, it is an interesting find regarding a Beta emitting Uranium isotope of high activity and short half life, which decays to very long lived Neptunium 237.

The same reference to Glasstone provides a link to a declassified report by Dr Carl F. Miller is USNRDL-466, with the link given as http://survival-training.info/Library/Nuclear/Nuclear%20-%20Decontamination%20of%20Fallout%20-%20Part%20II%20-%20Composition%20of%20Contaminants%20-%20C.%20Miller.pdf

The author at this post in Glasstone blogspot states: “Table 11 (on page 41 of the original document) contains all of the originally Secret – Restricted Data on neutron induced activities U-239/Np-239, U-237, and Np-240 in the fallout from 13 different key Jangle, Castle, Redwing and Plumbbob fallout producing tests.
….As the table shows, only thermonuclear weapons produce significant quantities of U-237. ….It is also worthy of note that the fission bomb tests Diablo and Shasta of Plumbbob in 1957 both produced only 0.10 atom/fission of U-239/Np-239, which is only about one-sixth of the production in the 1951 Sugar and Uncle tests.

The reason is that the 1951 tests Sugar and Uncle were old-fashioned implosion bombs with thick U-238 neutron “reflectors” that (instead of simply reflecting neutrons back) captured a large proportion of neutrons emitted from the core, whereas the 1957 tests Diablo and Shasta did not employ U-238 as a thick neutron reflector. The smaller amounts of U-238 contained in Diablo and Shasta was present in the highly-enriched uranium that was used in the composite uranium-plutonium cores that were in use at that time…..Notice also that Castle-Bravo produced 0.56 atoms/fission of U-239/Np-239, 0.10 atoms/fission of U-237, and 0.14 atoms/fission of Np-240, according to Dr Miller’s secret data. end quote. and here, the 0.10 atoms/fission of U237 is confusing given Lapp’s (1957) very clear concern that U237 in the ash collected from the deck of the Lucky Dragon Number 5 in 1954 was the primary isotope of concern in the exposures recieved by the crew of the vessel. Lapp in his 1957 calculates the weight of U237 produced by Castle Bravo as being 1/2 ton. (prior to it condensing around the coral compounds drawn into the fireball and which formed a large proportion by weight of the fallout). The mass of U238 in Castle Bravo’s third stage must have been very great. Most of the U238 fissioning, with the minority (0.10 atom of U237 created per atom of U238 fissioned. If I understand that correctly.)

The writer at the above Glasstone blog further states ” To avoid secrecy, Dr Miller quoted the (unclassified) Japanese findings in his unclassified 1963 “Fallout and Radiological Countermeasures” SRI report and also in his 1964 SRI report “Biological and Radiological Effects of Fallout from Nuclear Explosions”: the data from the Japanese physicists suggest a figure of 0.30 atoms/fission for U-239/Np-239 and 0.15 atoms/fission for U-237.”

And this brings me to a point in history which is very interesting indeed. Being ignorant of it, my report of it here can’t be taken without question. But I think that given the Japanese published their findings of the Lucky Dragon number 5 fallout (as well as analysis of radioactive rain which fell in Japan at the same period) in 1954, and this this publication allowed world wide appreciation of the fact that Castle Bravo was a 3F bomb (Fission fusion Fission device) with a U238 third stage, then the security classification the USA imposed on its knowledge of these matters co-existed in reality with the open publication of the Japanese findings. These Japanese findings were gained simply for medical reasons. The Japanese doctors treating the crew of the Lucky Dragon Number 5 simply needed to know what the crew had been exposed to precisely. The USA assisted by replying with a letter that contained, according to Lapp, a technical riddle as a clue. And that riddle, apparently, made relevant a Japanese discovery made in 1938. The discovery of U238 via cyclotron.

Happily I have found one of the reports originally published by the Japanese in 1954. (this point I point out that this blog is a blog, it is not a thesis. It is infact part 2 of what essentially is a personal diary being written in th public domain. At the start, Nuclear History (the first part of this blog) was an attempt to advocate for Australian nuclear veterans. Then Fukushma occurred and things changed a bit. Since March 2011, the amount of content devoted to the cause of nuclear veterans has reduced. Recently though, I was asked a question to British H bomb veterans, and U237 arises in my mind as something to look at. I stumbled upon mention of U237 as possibly relevant because I re read Lapp, 1957. The book itself raised the question of how Lapp got around US security – the Miller method of citing the independent Japanese discoveries of the content of Castle Bravo fallout. The ironic thing being that what was secret in the US domain was open and unclassified if one’s source was the Japanese information. This resonates with the situation regarding the UK – US agreements which allowed the UK to access, as a NATO member, US nuclear and thermo nuclear assistance. (the question here being are British veterans being denied dosimetry information on the basis of a 1950s agreement regarding what was then secret US owned data related to thermo nuclear weapons, and if so, did this information include the material published independently in the public domain by the Japanese in 1954? If so, is the Japanese 1954 information useful to the British veterans in their decades long legal battles with the British government? Is the information of such substance as to make life easier for Australian nuclear veterans who were exposed to French thermo nuclear weapon pulse and fallout (HMAS Supply, as directed by the Whitlam government. ) Is it of any use to the New Zealanders? Hopefully they know the information and have considered it. I’m late on the scene of the H bombs.

The 1954 Japanese paper describing the analysis of the Castle Bravo fallout, as collected from the decks of the Lucky Dragon Number 5 (source link: http://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/75484/1/chd032_s_039.pdf)

Lapp in his 1957 book assigns most of the exposure suffered by the crew to U237. The products listed above include some very active fission products. Cronkite in his testimony to a US Congressional Committee Hearing stated to the effect that Sr89 in urine samples taken from Marshal Islanders revealed the substance was at near maximum permissible levels, and that the beta burns suffered by the population were caused by to Sr89.

Assuming Cronkite (AEC, who was despatched to examine the afflicted population) was obviously subject to US secrecy contraints. Lapp and Miller, as mentioned above, side stepped that barrier by citing the open Japanese data. I conclude from this that the Japanese fishermen, afflicted by the same fallout inventory as the Marshall Islanders, had their major dose contributor freely assigned as being U237 while the Marshal Islanders, reliant upon US examination rather than any independent examination, had their major dose contributor, at least in terms of their beta burns to skin, assigned to Sr89.

Of course, given that U237 is formed immediately upon the neutron capture of U238, and the fact that Sr89 is formed only toward the end of the Krypton 89 decay chain, and given that Krypton 89 is a gas, the first of the U237 will form, possibly condense and fallout prior to the first formation of Sr89. At different distances from blast point, the ratios between each of these two will vary. Fallout is no uniform over time and distance, it is fractionalised. Comparing the position of the Lucky Dragon with the position of the affected inhabited Marshall Islands and comparing both with the position of the blast point, would be revealing as the differences in exposures suffered. U237 and Sr89 are both beta emitters with activities capable of causing skin burns. Those Islanders who did not quickly wash were most affected. Those who waded in the sea suffered far less beta burn damage to their feet than those who did not. The Japaneses sailors suffered burns to scalp, the hair proving difficult to cleanse of fallout. This being done in hospital.

So which is correct ? Sr89 or U237? Given the 52 day and 6.75 day half life of Sr89 and U273 respectively, both would have been in existence by the time the Marshal Islanders were afflicted. If the heavier (presumably) U237 fell out earlier in proportion, perhaps one or other group had a difference isotope mix. I imagine, U237 fallout did have a bearing upon the exposures suffered by the Islanders. IN the same fashion, the Sr89 Japanese scientists did find in the fallout on the Lucky Dragon 5 obviously contributed to the exposures suffered by the fishermen. Still, U237 was not admitted as an isotopes of concern to the Islanders, and in every report I have read of the fishermen in the public domain, (ie mainly Lapp) Sr89 is not mentioned.

The Marshal Islanders may have been free to read, via the Japanese publications, of the major exposure hazard in the Castle Bravo fallout presented by U237, the Americans attending the Marshal Islanders were not free to mention U237 lest the construction of the Castle Bravo be revealed to the Islanders, or more to the point, because that information was secret within the context of the US ambit. If you want the full inventory of products which contributed to your exposure, you wont get it if authorities feel it not in their own interests to disclose it.

It is a ludicrous situation, which I will use Lapp to further confirm now. And obviously, for my purposes, I am implying that in relation to the degree that the UK had to keep U237 as secret as the USA did, the veterans of Britain’s H bomb tests, in so far as U237 goes, to the extent that the British bombs, and the British modified bombs of US origin (W28) are concerned, were akin to the Marshal Islander’s situation rather than the Japanese fishermen’s situation in their ability to learn, from those with a duty of care, command and control over them, the actual substances which contributed to their exposures.

If a Marshal Islander did not trust the American description of the dose contributors to his or her bleached skin, that Islander could as the US repeatedly for the trust, and the only admissible truth would be Sr89. If that Islander telephoned the University of Tokyo and asked the same question, the answer would be given “U237”.

At this point, I ask, who should the British veterans best ask? The answer is difficult. The British government needs to consider the validity of its secrecy in these things in consultation with the creator of the original secret and secrets. The United States. That is my opinion. The ehtics of secrecy in these matters was thoroughly examined and described by Clinton’s HREX Advisory Committee. As I understand it, the relevant Executive Order remains in force. If the British government refuses to deal with what would amount to a review of the ethics of its secrets, to the extent that those secrets are US in origin, and being declassified to the extent that they now are, Clinton’s Executive Order may well enable the provision of relevant data from any appropriate public contact officer employed by the US Department of Energy to any British veteran who might ask for open information.

This is the potential situation. If it is the position, it is a lunatic positon that is held by the British government. A position in which secrets which are not secrets being with held in order to merely save the embarressment of loosing in court. Or conceding discovery of evidence to the plantiffs. HRex had a bit to say about that its final report of 1995.

I can imagine a person who has spent decades exclusively asking for access to relevant documents from British authorities in relation to the British tests (in this case H bomb tests) finding what I have written so far to be beyond belief. They may well even ask me for proof that U237 exists and if there is proof that it emits Beta, not Alpha. My main thrust for twenty years has been to supply Australian organisations (Atomic ExServicemens’ Assocation, and when Ric was still alive, the ANVA) with interesting documents which were not British, but which were in the open and legitimate domain. When obselete secrets meets open truth, one dissolves the other and only truth remains. Whatever that truth may be. If I were a nuclear veteran in court, I would want to win with the truth. If I lost with the truth so be it. No veteran has felt the process was fair, open or true. As far as I can tell.

The matter of U237 and the example of the Islanders dose description vs the Japanese dose description is one example of one secret. There are many secrets, and many explanations to conceal the hole in the page which describes the official cause and effects. The veterans experience effects not accounted for by the admitted dosimetry. Simple as that.

Cronkite informed the US Congress that the Marshal Islanders, though suffering Beta burns, which were confrimed, “did not need plastic surgery” and that “there was no sign of cancer”. Ask an Islander today what that society and its communities and individuals went through and one finds that the US Congress was ill informed by the limits to the truth applied to Cronkite’s mouth by his employer, the AEC, and its funder, the US government at that time.

For how many years was the U237 dose missing from the Islanders’ dosimetry?

What is missing from the veterans’ dosimetry?

Anyway, Lapp’s description of the AEC’s response to Japan’s plea to the USA for the detailed inventory of what was in the fallout. (Shades of the Australian ABC TV interview in which a British reactor expert from Imperial College London. When the expert was asked “what was in the cloud” from Fukushima traversing Tokyo, the expert spent talking about ground shine at the Diiachi plant. With 2 minutes of air time left, the interviewer broke in and said “Excuse me, but what people want to know is what is in the cloud? Is it cesium, Iodine….” “Yes those things”….end of program. A slight bit of phony dosimetry there I think. The expert might have been more forthcoming had he been in a dentist chair. It was like pulling teeth for the interviewer, I imagine. How to win public trust, direct from London. When people remember, an order to forget or unknow is impotent. It’s a perversion. Cs Sr U Rb Kr I Ph La Ba Te activated steel, etc etc. Its the total dose that counts. “Like a Cat scan” Shit we cant find the off switch. The British land in Tokyo and dress down Tepco. What is this ? Python without Cleese?)

Dosimetry. The difference between life and death, health and sickness. Phony dosimetry has deomstrably the stock in trade of nuclear authorities since John Hutton’s Officer CO told the entire Maralinga contingent that the Aboriginal family found wandering the range and who had to be dragged screaming into decontamination showers and scrubbed down, dog shot, deported to Yalata camp “Never existed, is that clear?” The CO in question responded to the Royal Commissioner’s question decades later by saying “yes, that’s something I would say, but I can’t remember saying it.”

Dosimetry and Castle Bravo according to Lapp.

Pages 146 and 147 of “Voyage of the Lucky Dragon” by Ralph Lapp, 1957.

The letter from Merril Eisenbud, a well known character from the Manhattan Project and AEC in the DOE Opennes Project’s Oral Histories, responds to Japan’s pleas for accurate dosimetry to help save the lives of the Lucky Dragon No. 5’s crew. The truth, being too secret to tell, forces Merril to refer the Japanese to the open literature. But there is a deviation. Some of the inventory does not fit the open literature cited (…Vol 68, page 2411, November 1946.) Atomic masses (specific substances) 103 – 130 do not conform to the open literature. The man reading Merril’s letter, Prof Kimura, built the first cyclotron outside of the USA in Japan prior to World War 2. In 1938 Prof Kimura discovered and described the creation of Uranium 237 by bombarding U238 via cycltron. And he published his results at that time. Before WW2. This was the man reading the AEC’s letter which tried to get around mentioning U237 in the fallout by referring the reader to the open literature. And pointing out where the fallout blend didnt conform. Hmm, I wonder what makes this fission fallout from any other? Of course, as we have seen the Japanese scientists quickly understood that the Bravo bomb released a large amount of U237. The lunacy of the AEC writing to the man who had discovered and first synthesised U237 in the open and the AEC attempting to conceal the secret creation of the substance by the bomb and its consequent presence in the fallout which afflicted the Japanese fishermen.

But at least Eisenbud correctly predicted the Japanese scientists would “get it”. Yet, if they did, the secret was blown. So why not speak plainly in the first place? Merril probably did not like the idea of prison.

Kimura and U238

A source document in additon to Lapp positively confirms the synthesis of U237 by Kimura prior to World War 2 as follows :
“Summary. In the early history of radiochemistry in Japan Yoshio Nishina and Kenjiro Kimura were internationally known for their discovery of symmetric nuclear fission of uranium. They also succeeded in getting U-237, which is an (n+1) series (neptunium series) nuclide, from U-238 by fast neutron irradiation. Kimura was an excellent leader of the radiochemical analysis of Bikini ashes in 1954.”
Source: Radiochim. Acta 100, 523–527 (2012) / DOI 10.1524/ract.2012.1954 © by Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, München “The dawn of radiochemistry in Japan” By H. K. Yoshihara∗ Kusakidai 4-12-13, Iwaki City, 972-8301 Japan (Received January 16, 2012; accepted in revised form January 31, 2012) (Published online April 10, 2012)

The secret substance U237, which gave away the nature of the Bravo Bomb, was not unique to that bomb.

What is the nature of U237? Today, the majority of people, including myself, understood Uranium to be long lived, weakly radioactive, an alpha emitter and the parent of decay products of greater activity, one substance, radon, being capable of transporting itself and therefore it’s progeny away from the uranium source.

U237 is very different from the natural uranium isotopes.

Outside of Lapp’s writings, I found data for Uranium 237 at KAERI, the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute at http://atom.kaeri.re.kr/ton/index.html confirming a 6.75 day half life, decay by beta minus emission. Decay .5 MeV. Progeny Neptunium 237. Andrew Kishner calculated the activity of U237 as being 81,615 Ci/g. The second source for the activity of U237 is :

Andrew Kishner’s calculation confirms that Nucleonica’s figure in Bq is correct.

Lapp and others give the neutron energy required for the creation of U237 from U238:

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Nov 1955, Lapp, Global Fallout.

In this description, Lapp gives 10 MeV as the minimum Neutron energy required for the transmutation of
U238 to U237. It is my understanding that the fission of U238 is by far the predominant result of these high energy neutron interactions with U238. This produces the same fissions products as “conventional” uranium fission. The difference with U238 seems to be the reliance of an external fast neutron source, in th ecase of Bravo – the fusion stage of the bomb. In the case of the U237 mentioned above in relation to the Totem bombs, the U238 being tamper material, Pu fission being the neutron source. In that case the U237 yield is much lower.

An additional facet in the creation of U237 is the type of fusion fuel used. Further, where a two stage fusion weapon uses a U238 pusher tamper, it may perhaps result in a higher yield of 237. Various fusion fuels may produce differing neutron energies. Lapp’s report of 10 MeV minimum energy being produced by a set variables which depend on the design of the fusion section of the bomb.

To understand if U237 was a factor in the dosimetry of the British H bomb veterans, one needs to understand the design of the British H bombs which tested experimentally at Malden and Christmas Island. As these weapons were novel devices – designed by British scientists without access to the American device designs – it is impossible to determine. Most of the British H bombs tested at the time failed to perform as expected, even though the tests proved that fusion had occurred but to a “disappointing degree”.

Wikipedia reports that each British bomb consumed 12 months worth of Britain’s production of the required fuel. How would Britain achieve a megaton range fusion weapon stockpile on the basis of the test results? If such a stockpile was impossible, what were the tests for? The demonstration of the gaining of the secret principles upon which the construction of a fusion weapon depends?

The USA did have a fusion weapons stockpile, Britain did not. Could America share the fruits of its fusion secrets – the actual bombs – with a military partner nation who demonstrably owned their own fusion secrets but who were in a poor position to produce their own fusion weapon stockpile? (Such a propsition is not as pythonesque as the USA sending technical riddles to one of the originators of U237 in Japan in order to preserve the secret of the presence of U237 in the fallout in question.

Among other sources, it is at this point the United Kingdom’s Atomic Weapons Research Establishment official history becomes interesting. If Britain’s capacity to manufacture bomb fuel was sufficient for one bomb (which did not reach the 1 megaton designed yield) a year, Britain would be rather hobbled during the arms race and a rather minor player in the destruction of the planet in the event of a full scale nuclear exchange. Things were looking desperate for Britain. The following is from the AWE website at http://www.awe.co.uk/aboutus/Our_History_f77a4.html

” “In autumn 1955, planning a trial of so-called ‘megaton’ devices got underway. The first was dropped over the Pacific on May 15th 1957. The yield of this experimental ‘hydrogen bomb’ was only 300 kilotons. Two other tests also failed to reach the one-megaton target. Another trial was hurriedly planned for November.

At the beginning of October, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite – something quite unexpected. It was an opportunity for the British to approach the United States about renewing collaboration on nuclear weapons. Congress began to amend the 1946 McMahon Act to allow exchanges of information, stopped in 1946, to restart. Shortly after, the next test of a British hydrogen bomb took place on November 8th 1957. The yield was 1.8 megatons. Two more successful series of tests followed.

In August 1958, the amended McMahon Act became law. An agreement was signed between the United States and Britain on sharing information ‘for mutual defence purposes’. It remains a cornerstone of work at AWE to this day.

The British decided to produce a megaton yield American warhead design under the code-name ‘Red Snow’. The equivalent British device needed more development and more nuclear tests – not possible because of an agreed pause in testing by the three nuclear powers.

However, certain aspects of the American design did not meet the British Ordnance Board Requirements. Modifications were embodied and trials carried out in Australia. The warhead would no longer fit the original American bomb casing and a much larger and heavier British one had to be used. ”

I point out that the claimed success of the British H bombs remains controversial. “BRITAIN’S first ‘H-bombs’, tested in 1957, were not H-bombs at all, but a bluff to convince the world that Britain was still a first-rate power, according to research to be published tomorrow. At the time, the report’s authors say, it probably even fooled the Americans for a while. It provoked an interest in the British nuclear programme that ended with the US giving Britain the means to manufacture true H-bombs in exchange for access to British ideas and designs for future weapons. According to the research, the secret of the bluff was confined to top nuclear scientists and inner government circles.

Furthermore, newly released US documents show that the British did not develop their later thermonuclear warheads – true H-bombs – entirely on their own, as the Government has asserted, but drew on US designs.

A 1958 report, recently released from the US Department of Energy archives, serial number LXXXI-596, says: ‘There are specific developments which the UK scientists have made which hold a great deal of interest for us and which might offer advantages in our weapons systems.’

The assertions appear in an article in the London Review of Books by Norman Dombey, professor of theoretical physics at the University of Sussex, and Eric Grove, formerly of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.” Source: The Independent, 15 Oct 1992. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/british-hbomb-tests-in-1957-were-a-bluff-research-shows-even-us-was-fooled-by-uk-claims-to-have-thermonuclear-weapon-1557484.html
Wikipedia gives the 9 hydrogen bomb tests conducted under Operation Grapple. Of these, 3 were in the megaton range. Wikipedia also reports that : “The practical result of the British H-bomb project (in conjunction with other political events [8]) was that the United States became willing to enter into the 1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement. This put an end to independent nuclear weapons development by the U.K. in favour of a program that was closely based on the American designs. The benefit to the U.K. was that this was much cheaper than developing its own designs for weapons that could be made in large numbers, and then deployed. An additional benefit was that the U.K. was able to buy highly enriched uranium from the U.S. and also sell plutonium to it made in British nuclear reactors. This was a deal that was useful to both parties and also profitable for the U.K. To their surprise, American nuclear weapons designers also benefited from access to information from the U.K. about the details of its high explosives and weapons electronics, and from the experience of designing nuclear weapons without large numbers of nuclear weapons test explosions [citation needed].

While the thermonuclear bomb designs tested by the U.K. during Operation Grapple were successful, they were never serially produced. The useful effect of the British tests was to increase the quality of information that the American Atomic Energy Commission was willing to share with the U.K., and also for British weapons designers to learn how to use that information successfully.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Grapple#cite_note-17 It is not necessary to establish that the British fusion bombs were fake, though if they were very large tritium boosted fission devices, one would expect a difference between the declared dosimetry applied to the veterans and the actual dosimetry kept under lock and key to preserve the “secret”. Such a suggestion borders on either the outlandish or the typically British when things go wrong.

In the event, Britain never produced its own designs as operational devices. The agreement with the US obviously the mutual keeping of secrets. In the era when the USA declassified much information – particularly during Clinton’s program of Openness in the 1990s, culminating in the declassification of an extremely large number of secret documents, and the creation of an online archive available to the public at https://www.osti.gov/opennet/ it is plausible that Britain today keeps as classified information which the USA has declassified and which may be easily accessed by anyone.

AWE history site states: “However, certain aspects of the American design did not meet the British Ordnance Board Requirements. Modifications were embodied and trials carried out in Australia. The warhead would no longer fit the original American bomb casing and a much larger and heavier British one had to be used. ”

I have no idea why Britain would want to modify a proven US H bomb. Perhaps it was for safety reasons. Perhaps it was to cram in as much U238 into the device as possible, resulting in the need for a bigger case. Who can tell? If “Red Snow” was capable of generating 10 MeV neutrons, a bit of U238 couldn’t hurt. Would they do such a thing?

Wikipedia describes the Red Snow weapon: “Red Snow was a British thermonuclear weapon.[1] Its physics package was identical to that of the United States W28 nuclear warhead[2] used in the B28 nuclear bomb and AGM-28 Hound Dog missile, with an explosive yield of approximately 1.1 megaton.

The Red Snow warhead was developed after a September 1958 decision to adopt the US warhead for British use, following the 1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement. It entered service in 1961, remaining in use until 1972, when it was replaced by the WE.177 bomb. Perhaps 150 were produced.

Red Snow was used as both a free-fall bomb and as the warhead of the Blue Steel missile.[1][3] In the gravity bomb role, it was fitted into the casing of the Yellow Sun weapon, even though the Red Snow warhead was considerably smaller than that of the original Yellow Sun bomb.

The Red Snow warhead was later reduced in size, weight and yield, and fitted with a smaller more modern primary, intended as a Red Beard replacement. Known as Una, this was later reduced in diameter and renamed Ulysses as the warhead intended for the UK warhead for the Skybolt project.[4]

The full history of the British Fusion Weapon programme remains yet to be revealed. There is sufficient controversy and difficulty reported and admitted to wonder what exactly the veterans of the H bomb tests actually exposed to, and to ask as usual for nuclear veterans, why their health status is so at variance to what the official dosimetry says it should be. The easy answer for the government is plain. The answer for the veterans is that the dosimetry is wrong. How the USA tackled this situation will be looked at in another post. I can say, from my arm chair, not being a nuclear veteran myself, that the American way remains far kinder, and the willingness of the USA to reconsider and amend its dosimetry as it did around 2001 is an example for others, obviously, to follow.

Many veterans in Britain and Australia wonder if the secrecy which limits hopes for justice is valid, or just an excuse to perpetuate lies originated for more than one reason. There is no proof that U237 and its decay Neptunium are missing dose components to which Christmas and Malden Island veterans were exposed. But I think it is a fair question. U237 is an immensely active form of Uranium, emitting beta rays. The immediate exposure may be immense, as it was for the victims of 1954. If internalised, the decay product Neptunium, alpha, becomes the traditional internalised alpha emitter of long term cellular insult and concern.

Americans have had questions about the British Hydrogen bomb program of the 1950s:

Questions on the British H-bomb
Author: Robert S Norris; Natural Resources Defense Council.
Publisher: Washington, D.C. : Natural Resources Defense Council, 1992.
Series: Nuclear weapons databook working papers, 92-5.
http://www.worldcat.org/title/questions-on-the-british-h-bomb/oclc/36950987 Sadly the book is hard to locate. I wonder exactly what the questions are.

The US Congressional Record Relevant to H Bomb Fallout

“The skin has been carefully observed at 6 months, 12 months, 2
years, and 3 years after exposure, and there is no evidence at the present
time of any breakdown in the early burns of the skin, there is no evidence of
the development of cancer at this time. In time the depigmented scars are still
evident. The individuals have been seen on two occasions by a plastic
surgeon, Dr. Bradford Cannon, of the Harvard Medical School, who feels that
no plastic repair is necessary and that the prognosis in general is good.”

This testimony is at odds with the later findings regarding the effects of the fallout,
and is a dramatic example of authority choosing to focus upon the appearance of things rather
than the actual human condition. The human condition can be imagined by considering the conditions which
the USA recognised openly decades later as effects of the dosimetry imposed upon the peoples of the
Pacific by American bombs:

“In June 1983,…the U.S. recognized the contributions and sacrifices made by
the people of the Marshall Islands in regard to the Nuclear Testing Program
and accepted the responsibility for compensation owing to citizens of the
Marshall Islands for loss or damage to property and person resulting from that
testing….” “of [the] 1,999 awardees, more than 1,000 have died receiving only
partial payment awarded for their personal injuries. As of December 31, 2006,
a total of $73,261,198 paid to those awardees or their heirs, leaving an unpaid
balance of $18,140,802.” The 36 medical conditions for which the payments
have been made are:
1 Leukemia (other than chronic lymphocytic leukemia),
2 Cancer of the thyroid,
3 Cancer of the breast,
4 Cancer of the pharynx,
5 Cancer of the esophagus,
6 Cancer of the stomach,
7 Cancer of the small intestine,
8 Cancer of the pancreas,
9 Multiple myeloma.
10 Lymphomas (except Hodgkin’s disease),
11 Cancer of the bile ducts,
12 Cancer of the gall bladder,
13 Cancer of the liver (except if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated),
14 Cancer of the colon,
15 Cancer of the urinary tract, including the urinary bladder, renal pelves,
urethra and urethra,
16 Tumors of the salivary gland,
17 Non-malignant thyroid nodular disease (unless limited to occult nodules),
18 Cancer of the ovary,
19 Unexplained hypothyroidism (unless thyroiditis indicated),
20 Severe growth retardation due to thyroid damage,
21 Unexplained bone marrow failure,
22 Meningioma,
23 Radiation sickness diagnosed between June 30, 1946 and August 18,
1958, inclusive,
24 Beta burns diagnosed between June 30, 1946 and
August 18, 1958, inclusive,
25 Severe mental retardation (provided born between
May and September 1954, inclusive, and mother was present on Rongelap or
Utirik Atolls at any time in March 1954),
26 Unexplained hyperparathyroidism,
27 Tumors of the parathyroid gland,
28 Bronchial cancer (including cancer of
the lung and pulmonary system),
29 Tumors of the brain, including schwannomas, but
not including other benign neural tumors,
30 Cancer of the central nervous system,
31 Cancer of the kidney,
32 Cancer of the rectum,
33 Cancer of the cecum,
34 Non-melanoma skin cancer in individuals who were diagnosed as having
suffered beta burns under number
24 above,
35 Cancer of the bone,
36 Autoimmune thyroiditis.

Source: Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal, June 11, 2007

Quite obviously, the attendance of a plastic surgeon never was a major priority
for the nuclear victims.

One wonders how the existence of the truer picture of the fallout inventory of that bomb – Bravo –
placed in the public domain by the Japanese scientists in 1954 affected the course of justice (such as it
has been) for the Pacific Islanders. If the Lucky Dragon Number 5 had never made it back to port,
had the fallout thus been denied independent analysis, what hope would the Islanders have had in 1983 of
the US admitting cause and effect?

In regard to the victims of the British bombs, the decades long denial of any effect from the bombs has been a deliberate social inculcation program which commenced with the phony fallout maps (Cross), the suppression of fallout inventory (Titterton, Marsden, Cross) the suppression of effects (Lennon, Royal Commission interview transcripts) and false statements issued by authorities regarding the alleged safety of specific fallout events compared to the testimony of lawyers involved in cases which medically proved, to the satisfaction of the courts that disease was inflicted by specific fallout events. Such testimony is required because the relevant court case is suppressed from public access. (Collett).

There remains very strong grounds for considering the claims that British and Australian authorities make, in their legal and public pronouncements, are feeble in their completeness and truthfulness. The only non Anglophile eyes which saw the effects of the bombs in Australia are Aboriginal eyes. This public domain knowledge is treated as “unscientific” by the political elites. However, this claim stands throughly debunked by many later observers and by the testimony and medical histories of the witnesses. (Lennon, Collet, Lennon, Madigan, Langley).

It is a great pity that Glasstone blogspot, a vast online repository of value, considers the written record authored by Lorna Arnold to be creditable. It is not. It is part of the Anglophile propaganda campaign aimed at repelling the witnessed truths. (Cross). Finally, there is the fact of the alternately missing or lost Maralinga medical records. Veteran John Hutton, having lifted pages from his file when doctors at the Maralinga hosptial were not looking, being the only Australian veteran to have gained access to his medical record. Strangely though, Lorna Arnold had access to all these records. So where the fuck are they really? Locked away at Aldermaston???

How relevant is U273 and its decay progeny to the veterans of the British bombs? I do not know. How relevant is the story of its suppression from the official public record of the nuclear powers due to selective secrecy juxtaposed with the public record since 1938 of its existence and nature? Extremely valid. U273 was never born secret. The only thing that was a bastard of a lie.

If Lapp made a mistake in his constant, ironic and blatent repititon of the name “U237” in the public domain, by voice, by printed word, by electronic interview, it is this: He failed to explain the very great differences between U273 and the natural uranium isotopes. In fact, for a lay person like me, it is relatively difficult to find out the radio chemical nature of U237. To the extent that this is misunderstood, (though many today were born too late to know, from simply living, of the Lapp U273 account, and so have never heard of U273) the powers have made a rod for their own backs. The Japanese fishermen, their doctors and scientists, murmured “Beta, Beta, Beta.” as they fought the immediate total dose in order to stay alive. It is indeed the total dose which counts. At the time of exposure the cry is “Alpha Beta Gamma.” As years pass, the residue in tissue, aged long lived stuff, is composed of both beta and alpha emitters, with still some gamma. Perhaps a new model is needed. Something is wrong. Either the dosimetry, or the science. For the effects suffered are denied by governments. In this case, perhaps, the easy path is simply to change the relevant laws. The veterans court case is only about their case. No one else’s. Once the cases are all won, then and only then has a precedent been set. And that will not happen. Too many have been lost because the proof is secret and with held from court. Change the law, pay the pension, let them die in peace.

This isnt about science, it is about justice. One case be another case, the judge would throw the amalgam out. The public domain, no matter how applicable it’s information, is first of all a political tool, not primarily a legal. Change happens when the wave of public opinion breaks. The laws change and the courts, compelled by law, may make remedy. So long as lies are told in court either by inclusion of the false or by omission of the truth, and so long as authorities presenting the perjury are seen as legitimate witnesses, the truth with likely loose it’s case. The veterans case is about pensions. It is not about dismantling nuclear industry. That may take a further 200 years. Depending on when the wave breaks.

On that day the archives will be breached by government itself in a feeble attempt to justify why it’s manic public lies uttered over decades were so incongruent with what both it and the public actually knew.

“Of course I could not tell the safety committee all I knew. I was subject to American and British secrecy.” Titterton, 1984. When secrecy gets in the way of justice in an alleged democracy, the totalarians have won the war.

Abe is a quick learner, Mrs. Yamamoto. The public record of Fukushima won’t get a legal lookin in the court cases of 2050 brought by the children.

Paul Langley


1. Part of Cronkite’s testimony to the Congessional Hearings (1957) is presented next post.

2. Hutton’s pages snatched from his Maralinga Hospital medical file show a diangosis of “vomiting” . This is not a diagnosis but an observation of a medical sign. The pages reveal Hutton was treated, among other things, with a medication used in the treatment of radiation sickness. To this day his sufferings are denied by authorities. He was the only Australian nuclear veteran able to retain any shred of his medical file. Various authorities claim these records are lost and successive Australian governments have refused to release for various reasons including patient confidentiality, (the men who want the records are the ones who own the medical information. The records are about them, not about the government.) or because the government claims it cannot find then. Lorna Arnold wrote her propaganda from England and had full access to the records in question.

“In December 2000, in response to GAO’s findings, the National Research Council was asked to review the DTRA dose reconstruction program, and the present committee was formed for this purpose. The committee was charged by Congress to conduct a review that included the random selection of samples of doses reconstructed by DTRA to determine

Whether or not the reconstruction of the sample doses is accurate.

Whether or not the reconstructed doses are accurately reported.

Whether or not the assumptions made regarding radiation exposure based on the sampled doses are credible.

Whether or not the data from nuclear tests used by DTRA as part of the reconstruction of the sampled doses are accurate…..On the basis of its review, the committee reached the following conclusions related to all aspects of the process of dose reconstruction for atomic veterans:

The methods used to estimate average doses to participants in various military units from external exposure to gamma rays, on the basis of exposures measured by film badges worn by participants or by field survey instruments, and from external exposure to neutrons, on the basis of established methods of calculation, are generally valid. However, because the specific exposure conditions for any individual often are not well known, many participants did not wear film badges during all possible times of exposure, and the available survey data used as input to the models often are sparse and highly variable, the resulting estimates of total dose for many participants are highly uncertain…..

Upper bounds of doses from external exposure to photons often are underestimated, sometimes considerably (for example, by a factor of 2-3), particularly when reconstructed doses are based on field survey data and uncertain assumptions about an individual’s locations and times of exposure, as opposed to being based on film-badge data.

Upper bounds of doses from external exposure to neutrons are always underestimated—by a factor of about 3-5, depending on the value of the neutron quality factor assumed in a dose reconstruction—because of neglect of the uncertainty in the biological effectiveness of neutrons relative to gamma rays in all calculations. However, few participants received significant doses from exposure to neutrons.

Doses to the skin and lens of the eye from external exposure to beta particles are claimed by the NTPR program to be upper bounds (“high-sided”) because they are based on multiplying a presumed upper-bound external gamma dose by a calculated beta-to-gamma dose ratio, which also is presumed to be “high-sided.” However, upper-bound gamma doses based on a reconstruction are often too low, as noted above, and the beta-to-gamma dose ratios are not evidently “high-sided” in all cases. In addition, the committee found no evidence in the 99 reviewed files that estimates of beta dose to skin include the dose due to contamination of the skin, for example, by means of adhering dirt particles. That probably was an important exposure pathway for many participants at the NTS because of the substantial dust in areas of participant activity at many shots.

Methods used to estimate inhalation doses are highly uncertain and subject to potentially important sources of error because of the lack of relevant air monitoring or bioassay data, and most uncertainties and sources of error have not been evaluated by the NTPR program. Nonetheless, in some exposure scenarios, the committee believes that inhalation doses assigned to atomic veterans are credible upper bounds. That is probably the case, for example, when veterans received inhalation exposures mainly from descending fallout at the NTS or in the Pacific or from resuspension of activation products in soil at the NTS. In other scenarios, such as exposure to resuspended fallout caused by walking or other light activity, upper bounds may have been underestimated but the doses still were apparently low. However, the committee has concluded that there are important scenarios in which credible upper bounds of inhalation doses exceed alleged “high-sided” doses estimated by the NTPR program by large factors. Large underestimates of upper bounds occurred in scenarios in which participants (including maneuver troops and close-in observers) were exposed in forward areas shortly after a detonation at the NTS, especially late in the period of atomic testing, and were due mainly to neglect of the effects of the blast wave produced in a detonation on resuspension of previously deposited fallout, the frequent neglect of aged fallout that accumulated at the NTS throughout the period of atomic testing, and the general neglect of fractionation of radionuclides, especially plutonium, in fallout. Furthermore, in scenarios in which inhalation

doses were underestimated by large factors, credible upper bounds of organ equivalent doses could be high enough to be important to a decision about compensation. Thus, the committee has concluded that the methods that have been used to estimate inhalation doses to atomic veterans do not consistently provide credible upper bounds of possible doses and that this could be an important deficiency in some exposure scenarios.

The possibility of ingestion exposures apparently is not considered routinely in dose reconstructions for atomic veterans. However, except in rare situations, the committee has concluded that potential ingestion doses were not significant. Therefore, in nearly all cases, neglect of ingestion exposures should not have important consequences with regard to estimating credible upper bounds of total doses to the veterans.

Veterans are not always given the benefit of the doubt in developing exposure scenarios and assessing film-badge data. Veterans often were not contacted to verify their exposure scenarios even when such contact was feasible and could have been helpful. In some cases, there was inadequate follow-up with other participants who might have been able to clarify scenario assumptions. As a result of inconsistent application of the policy of benefit of the doubt, the committee has concluded that upper bounds of dose have been underestimated substantially in a number of dose reconstructions for individual veterans.

As a result of problems identified by the committee in scenario development and estimation of external and inhalation doses, as summarized above, total doses reported by the NTPR program do not consistently provide credible upper bounds, and the degree of underestimation of upper bounds is substantial in many cases. Source: A Review of the Dose Reconstruction Program of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency ( 2003 ) at http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10697&page=10

Apparently the methodology and ethics displayed is this report would mean, in the British and Australian official view, the creation of “complications in the relations between Britain and other nations” and the “giving of aid to the enemy”. (British official notification to Whyte, 2014, and Busby, 2014 accompanying the adivse that dose information would not be provided by Her Majesty.)