New research suggests that Chinese nuclear tests might have killed up to 190,000 people over 32 years. Now ailing survivors are demanding government compensation for their terrible fate caused due to China’s irresponsible persuasion of atomic bomb.
A recent study conducted by Japanese professor and physicist Jun Takada has reportedly revealed that the Chinese government carried out 46 surface nuclear tests from 1964 to 1996, causing up to 190,000 deaths in the surrounding areas. The research said Chinese nuclear weapon tests caused more deaths than those of any other nation.
Due to strict secrecy of communist regime no Chinese scientist involved in the nuclear tests dared to open their mouth about the terrible aftermath inflicted on the military people and civilians residing at the test site area for month and years. But, veterans, who have been facing traumatic health hazards from years, now started demanding government compensation for the terrible price they have paid due to China’s weapon tests.
According to the news report, men and women of Unit 8023, a special detachment charged with conducting atomic tests at Lop Nur Nuclear Weapons Test Base, in Xinjiang province, a place of utter desolation and – until now – complete secrecy, talked about what they did in the test site.
China, Xinjiang, desert Lop Nur. Satellite picture of the Basin of the formerly sea Lop Nur in the Desert of Lop Nur
They have described how they used to use their bare hands to pick up radioactive wastes, how soldiers died due to strange and rare diseases and children took birth with mysterious cancers. They also have talked of sluicing down bombers that had flown through mushroom clouds.
One old soldier said: “I was a member of Unit 8023 for 23 years. My job was to go into the blast zone to retrieve test objects and monitoring equipment after the explosion.”
He also talked about his daughter who was born with a huge tumor on her spinal cord. He said: “The doctors blame nuclear fallout. She’s had two major operations and has lived a life of indescribable hardship. And all we get from the government is 130 yuan ($19) a month.”
The veterans said they lived only 10 kilometers away from the blast site and they often entered the zone without any protective suits. They used to use only gas masks and goggles. While returning home they used to wash themselves with plain water.
Veterans have already placed their demand for compensation by sending letters to the state council and the central military commission. The Chinese government has already responded to pressure from veterans’ groups. Last year Li Xueju, the minister of civil affairs, said that the state had started to pay “subsidies” to nuclear test personnel but gave no details of the amounts.
The new research conducted by Professor Jun Takada has revealed that up to 1.48 million people were exposed to the fallout and 190,000 of them died due to ailments related to radiation.
Takada said from Lop Nur “Nucler sands” — a mixture of dust and fission products — was blown by prevailing winds towards towns and villages along the ancient Silk Road from China to the West. The victims staying in that region included Chinese, Uighur Muslims and Tibetans. Takada found deformed children as far away as Kazakhstan.
In 1955, Mao Tse-tung took the decision to make the atomic bomb in order to make China a great power as he was afraid of the United States as well as the then Soviet Union. Since then China has conducted 46 tests among which 23 were in the atmosphere, 22 underground and one failed. They included thermonuclear blasts, neutron bombs and an atomic bomb covertly tested for Pakistan on May 26, 1990.
In November 17, 1976, China tested an atomic bomb by dropping it from an aircraft. It was reportedly 320 times more powerful than the bomb that was dropped in Hiroshima. In 1996, China signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and since then it is believed that China has stopped its nuke testing in Gobi desert.
Danny Stillman, director of technical intelligence at Los Alamos, New Mexico, home of America’s nuclear weapons, was one of the rare visitors from outside who got a glimpse of China’s huge nuclear testing project. He reportedly made 10 visits to secret Chinese nuclear facilities during a period of detente and information exchange from 1990 to 2001.
Stillman said: “Some of the videos they showed me were of PLA (People’s Liberation Army) soldiers riding on horses - with gas masks over the noses and mouths of both the horses and the soldiers - as they were riding towards the mushroom cloud of an atmospheric surface detonation.”
Stillman was surprised to see that soldiers raising their swords entered the radioactive fallout. Like the Americans, the Chinese placed caged live animals, tanks, planes, vehicles and buildings around the test sites and those remains were gathered by the people of Unit 8302.
He also said: “The surprise to me was that they also had a full-scale Beijing subway station with all supporting utilities constructed at an undefined depth directly underneath.”
Wu Qian, a scientist, said: “There were 10,000 animals and a model of a Yangtze River bridge.”
Li Yi, a woman doctor, said: “Animals placed two kilometers from the blast centre were burnt to cinders and those eight kilometers away died within a few days.”
Still today, no Chinese scientist has dared to conduct a study on the human toll. Takada was the first scientist who condemned large-scale surface nuclear tests in China as Devil's conduct. He developed a computer simulation model based on fieldwork at Soviet test sites in Kazakhstan. With this computer he calculated that 1.48 million people got exposed to the radioactive radiation over 32 years of nuke tests.
Takada estimated 190,000 people have died of cancer or leukemia. He also said 35,000 fetuses were deformed or miscarried, with cases found as far away as Makanchi, near the Kazakh border with China.
According to him, China’s three biggest tests alone generated 4 million times more radioactivity than the Chernobyl reactor accident of 1986. He termed the clouds of fallout as “an air tsunami.”
Takada reportedly expressed his grave concern over highly promoted tourism on the Great Silk Road. The tourist sites actually fall in the radiation area, making travel highly risky to innocent travelers, especially those who visited before 1996.
Mr. Dili Anwar, a Uyghur exile living in England, said: "China conducts nuclear tests not only for itself, but also provides the testing site to Pakistan. We all know that Pakistan conducted a nuclear test one week after India’s test. In fact, Pakistan had already tested twice in China before that."