Russia: A Bang in Asia

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Seeking a Scare. This meant a device of at least 100 kilotons (five times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima), exploded neither underground nor in outer space, but probably mounted on a testing tower or dropped from a plane. It may have been a new, compact warhead for an ICBM missile like the U.S.

Minuteman. Or, U.S. scientists guessed, perhaps it was the "small" trigger device for the huge 100-megaton monster that Khrushchev boasted was being designed.

As a weapon, the 100-megaton bomb would be sheer waste, for there is no major city in the world that cannot be wiped out with one well-directed 20-meg-aton bomb. But for scare value, such a bomb has its own impact. And Nikita Khrushchev was seeking scare value with a vengeance last week. Even as he rattled his H-bombs, the Red army was announcing extended tours of service for Russian soldiers due to be discharged in coming months.

Whatever the military reasons for Khrushchev's decision, its timing and tone were clearly designed with the primary and primitive object of creating an aura of terror. The immediate object was 1) to divide and cow the Western powers themselves in the approach to the negotiation table, 2) to frighten the neutrals into clamoring for Western concessions in Berlin at any cost. In fact, he tacitly admitted as much last week to two visiting left-wing British politicians. He told them frankly that he had resumed nuclear testing to shock the West into negotiations on Germany. And, having just torpedoed the Geneva conference, Nikita added ludicrously that his purpose was also to force the West into disarmament talks.

Proposing Paralysis. The West's leaders were unintimidated. In response to

Khrushchev's talk of a loo-megaton bomb, West Germany's Chancellor Konrad Adenauer said grimly: "We know that the Soviet Union's stocks of nuclear weapons already suffice to destroy our whole country, to destroy all Europe . . . This is the way the world is, and I ask you all to see the world as it is. The Soviet Union also knows full well that if it should in fact come to nuclear war, Soviet Russia will also be eradicated.

Khrushchev intended to paralyze the German people with this announcement, but we will not allow ourselves to be paralyzed." But many a common citizen was less determined, e.g., in a recent poll, the French Institute of Public Opinion found that 90% of French voters did not think the Allies should risk a world war to defend the present status of West Berlin.

The kind of thing Khrushchev could hope for from the neutrals, once they got over their initial indignation, was already manifesting itself in Belgrade, where a chorus of neutralist voices urged a summit meeting between Russia and the West to negotiate their differences—with the implied notion that the West should negotiate something, anything, that would appease the terrible wrath of Nikita Khrushchev.

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