Dark Sun, by Richard Rhodes
In the fall of 1949, the President’s general advisory committee on atomic energy held hearings on whether and how the United States ought to try for the hydrogen “super” bomb: a thermonuclear warhead based on atomic fusion and theoretically capable of releasing a thousand times more energy than the fission bombs used in August 1945 at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the parents of the A-bomb but now an opponent of H-bomb development, was put on the stand, and his concluding remarks, laced with irony, cut to the heart of the ethical and strategic dilemmas involved in building a weapon too awful to use.
Q. In fact, Doctor, you testified, did you not, that you assisted in selecting the target for the drop of the atomic bomb on Japan?
A. Right. . . .
Q. How many were killed or injured?
A. Seventy thousand.
Q. Did you have moral scruples about that?
A. Terrible ones. . . .
Q. Would you have supported the dropping of a thermonuclear bomb on Hiroshima?
A. It would make no sense at all.
A. The target is too small.
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