Film: Command and Control
Northampton Committee to Stop War 2nd and 4th Wednesdays film series. Free and accessible. Discussion follows.
Command and Control
Using one terrifying incident to sell a larger anti-proliferation message, Robert Kenner's Command and Control pushes the decommissioning of America's nuclear arsenal by showing how close a trivial 1980 mishap came to destroying most of Arkansas and blanketing the U.S. with radioactive fallout. (Local anti-nuclear experts will lead the post-film discussion.)
As the film delivers a ticking-clock account of what happened next — fuel vapors filling the silo, the risk of explosion growing by the minute, Strategic Air Command and others around the state mapping out what will happen if an explosion triggers the nuclear device — it debunks assertions that it's impossible for nukes to trigger in such conditions. Interspersing technical talk with a quick history of nuclear testing and other near-misses, the doc demonstrates how often situations like this arise. The message being that, even with all the fail-safes and protections in the world, human-made systems do not run perfectly; and with thousands of nuclear weapons still being stored, the law of averages says one of these near-misses will eventually lead to a nuclear explosion on American soil.