July 1990 (vol. 6, #5) 1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9, Tucson AZ 85716 c 1990 J Orient


``The present Soviet reality gives Americans some cause for concern,'' writes Alexei Pushkov in the July 8-15, 1990, issue of Moscow News. ``To begin with, few Americans believe the official Soviet figures concerning the country's defence budget. The figures are put into doubt even by the Soviet press. Besides, the way the Soviet defence budget is drawn up is still a secret....

``The general instability inside the USSR only aggravates Americans' concern....The thought of civil war in a country which has at its disposal thousands of nuclear warheads is indeed terrifying.''

The Soviets themselves are possibly even more concerned. Troubled by rising levels of crime, thefts of conventional weapons, accidents and personnel problems within the military, the Soviet government is moving to ``consolidate its control over its estimated 33,000 nuclear warheads'' (Wall Street J 6/22/90). Nuclear warheads are being moved out of the Baltic states and volatile southern republics into areas believed to be more stable politically. If the Soviet Union were to break up into independent republics, Kazakhstan, with its large Moslem population, could become one of the world's most potent nuclear powers. It is the site of two SS-18 bases.

``Whose fingers are on the button?'' asked Bruce G. Blair, a Brookings Institution researcher, commenting on the security of the codes used for launching and arming nuclear weapons.

``There is no nation more menacing than the one undergoing civil war,'' stated Guiseppe Sacco, editor of the European Journal of International Affairs, at the recent meeting of the Committee for the Free World. He referred to Roman history at the time of Pompey, and to the fact that Britain was never more feared and respected than in the time of Cromwell.

The breakup of the Soviet Empire could add overnight to the number of powers equipped with nuclear and ballistic missile technology. But even without such an occurrence, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction continues.

India is planning to acquire a second nuclear submarine from the Soviet Union. The first such submarine (named Chakra) was the type equipped with sea-launched cruise missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads. (The Chakra was leased for training purposes and was not armed with nuclear weapons.) The second submarine will be sold rather than leased, and restrictions against use in combat have been lifted. If the Indian Navy doubles in size, it will be a major regional power capable of projecting an ``extra-regional presence,'' according to Admiral J. Nadkarni, its Chief of Staff (Moscow News 7/8-15/90).

In 1989, India launched a two-stage ballistic missile (the Agni) on a flight of 1,500 miles. The missile utilizes space-launch technology provided by France and the Soviet Union. India is building several missile testing sites. It has refused to be part of the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons and openly tested a nuclear device in 1974.

Pakistan refuses to allow international controls on its uranium-enrichment program. Former leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto reportedly said that Pakistanis would be willing to ``eat grass,'' if necessary, to counter India's nuclear capability. Pakistan claims to have tested a short-range missile and plans to develop a missile with a 375-mile range.

The lead article in the August, 1990, Scientific American also describes other missiles under development in 14 nations, and the means by which technology reaches users for whom it was not intended. It also explains how the missiles might be used to devastating effect, even without nuclear technology. A Soviet Scud B missile (designed to carry either a nuclear, conventional, or chemical warhead) that released 1,200 pounds of chemical agent VX from a height of 4,000 feet could kill half the people in a strip 0.3 mile wide and 2.5 miles long.

Although an increasingly unstable world situation would seem to make an ever more persuasive case for homeland defense, Scientific American writers Janne Nolan and Albert Wheelon recommend only ``confidence and security building measures'' to ``ease suspicions.'' While counseling that ``realism need not be a pretext for fatalism,'' they give little reason for optimism about the success of their proposals: ``the US should recognize the waning of its influence on the global arms race.''

Shelter on Tour

About 1.5 million people in the Northeastern US will have the opportunity this summer and fall to see and touch the mobile steel shelter that was displayed at the last annual meeting of DDP. Steve Alley, founder of the New England Civil Defense Association (NECDA), has planned an extensive tour, with the support of the local, state, and national American Legion. Benjamin Berry Post 50 in Unity, ME, was the first American Legion Post to add hardware to rhetoric in support of civil defense. The shelter was at the Twelve Oaks Fair in Lincoln, ME, July 19-22 and will be at the Bangor State Fair July 26-Aug 5. NECDA and the American Legion will be cosponsoring the exhibit at the Allentown Fair, Aug 27-Sept 3. In Allentown, High Frontier will have a display next to the shelter and will show the films Spaceship Experimental(the SSX) and One Incoming, written by Tom Clancy the film whose screening was scuttled at the White House, purportedly because it wasn't produced by the bureaucracy.


Protection Against Radioactive Iodine

The US does not stockpile potassium iodide (KI) for blocking thyroid uptake of radioactive iodine after nuclear accidents or war. The US government and many scientists are more afraid that somebody might misuse the KI than of wide-spread hypothyroidism or thyroid cancer after disaster. (If accidents involving Western commercial reactors, as opposed to Cher-nobyl types, were the only consideration, this reasoning might be justified.) Thus, if you haven't stored some KI, there will probably be none available to you in time of crisis.

Experiments in animals and human volunteers1 have shown that tincture of iodine or povidone-iodine (eg Betadine) solutions, which are widely available over the counter, can also provide protection. Administration of 130 mg oral KI, applica-tion of 4 cc of 2% tincture of iodine to the forearm, or applica-tion of 8 cc of 2% tincture of iodine to skin of the abdomen blocked, respective-ly, 96.9%, 35.8%, or 81.7% of thyroid uptake of radioactive iodine (131I). (5 cc approximately = 1 tsp.) All the blocking iodine preparations were given 2 hours before the 131I. An occlusive dressing was taped over the skin. (Saran wrap would do nicely.) Serum levels were highest ap-proximately two hours after topical application of iodine, and persisted longer than 24 hours with the 8 cc dose. In animal experiments,2,3 povidone iodine solution was also effective.

It is better to give the blocking dose before exposure to radioactive iodine, but a 60% reduction in 131I uptake can be achieved even with a 3-hr delay.

As a rule of thumb, the area to be covered by the iodine is approximately equal to the area of the person's hand (both sides). There is some evidence to suggest that prolonged contact may not be necessary.2, 3

No ill effects were observed in the experiments. Topical application of iodine to intact skin has not caused toxicity in adults. Use on burned or damaged skin is not advised. Re-versible abnor-malities of thyroid function have been seen in newborns after repeated or massive applications. True allergic reac-tions are rare and have generally been associated with high concentrations (7%) of tincture of iodine (iodine in alcohol).

A 130-mg dose of KI is approximately equivalent to four drops of a saturated solution of KI,4 which can be made from KI crystals obtained from a chemical supply house (the cheapest source). Analytic reagent grade is purer than pharm-aceutical grade; however, it cannot be sold to you if the supplier suspects you might intend it for human consumption. (Your govern-ment is protecting you.)

The half-life of 131I is 8 days. After 80 days, only 1/1000 of the initial radioactivity will remain. Thus, keeping a 100-day supply of KI is recommended.4


1. Miller KL, et al. Effectiveness of skin absorption of tincture of I in blocking radioiodine from the human thyroid gland. Health Physics 1989;56:911-914.

2. Miller KL, et al. Skin exposure to I blocks thyroid uptake of 131I. Health Physics 1985;49:791-794.

3. Moody KD et al. The effects of topical povidone I solution on serum iodide levels and thyroid uptake of 131I in dogs. Health Physics 1988;55:9-13.

4. Kearny C. Nuclear War Survival Skills. Oregon Inst Sci Med, 1987, $10.50 ppd, PO Box 1279, Cave Junction, OR 97523.


Beria's Chemical Warfare Lab Revealed

From an article entitled ``A Stalin Prize for Murders (Excerpts from the Indictment of Beria, Merkulov and Kobu-lov),'' Moscow News 6/17-24/90:

``In search of methods of administering different poisons to commit secret murders, Beria ordered a top secret laboratory set up to study the action of various poisons on prisoners sentenced to death...

``Mairanovsky and the doctors and laboratory assistants who worked under him killed prisoners by introducing various poisons into their bodies. The poisons were introduced through food, sharp-ended canes or injections.''

The editor appeals to all who can give testimony as to these murders, so that the history can be revealed, to assure that it will not be repeated.


Chemical Warfare Updates

Laos. Lao resistance fighters say they have been giving chemical weapons samples to anyone who will take them. They claim that a yellow gas or powder is being delivered by artillery fire and airplanes, causing death or symptoms such as nausea, difficulty breathing, headache, and skin sores. Truth of the reports can neither be confirmed nor denied. The US chemical and biological warfare team, attached to the embassy in Bangkok in 1983, was disbanded in '86 (Wall St J 6/14/-90).

Libya. The fire at the chemical weapons plant at Rabta may have been an elaborate hoax, according to US State Dept officials. A spokesman for Spot Image, the French company that sells satellite imagery, stated that photographs show intact buildings and no traces of fire on the ground. Burn marks may have been deliberately painted onto buildings.

According to a May 4 report in a West German weekly, Libya is building a new poison-gas factory at an underground site at Sebha, again with the involvement of West German firms. Jürgen Hippenstiel-Imhausen, former president of Imhausen Chemie GmbH was charged March 22 with violating West German export laws in connection with the Rabta plant (Chemical Weapons Convention Bulletin June 1990).

Iran. A US Defense Dept study says that the civilian poison-gas casualties at Halabja in 1988 may have been due to Iranian, as well as Iraqi CW bombardment; some died from cyanide, which was not used by Iraq (ibid.).

US-Soviet Summit. Despite Senate objections, the Bush Administration wants the chemical weapons agreement signed at the June summit meeting to be treated as an executive agreement rather than a treaty. The former requires approval of a simple majority of both houses, whereas a treaty requires ratification by two-thirds of the Senate. The SALT I agree-ment was treated as an executive agreement because it was supposed to be only an ``interim accord'' (Wall St J 7/5/90).


HEDI Really Is Faster than an Airplane

The velocity achieved by the HEDI in its January flight test was more like 3000 ft/sec, not 300 ft/sec. Thanks to those who noticed the typo.