British nuclear tests

Nobody better reflects the military and political elites’ cavalier attitude to nuclear weapons than Sir William Penney, the architect of Britain’s hydrogen bomb program.

Asked how destructive the new weapons were in meetings in 1961 between US Democrat President John F. Kennedy and British Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, Penney casually answered by saying: “It would take twelve to destroy Australia, Britain five or six, say seven or eight, and I’ll have another gin and tonic, if you would be so kind”.

South Australian Yankunytjatjara elder and activist Yami Lester, who was blinded as a teenager by dust from the Maralinga nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s, died on July 21 in Alice Springs, aged 75.

His family said his death "leaves an incredible legacy of better global understanding of the devastation of nuclear bombs and for the ongoing battle for recognition of the consequences of them".

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