Soviet Union Collapse: The Nuclear Factor

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Offline Md Kamrul Hasan

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Soviet Union Collapse: The Nuclear Factor
« on: March 12, 2022, 11:55:16 PM »
Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States teetered on the edge of mutual nuclear destruction. What few had considered, however, was that the Soviet Union would be brought down by an incident involving a civilian nuclear plant. Gorbachev had been in power for just over a year when, on April 26, 1986, the Unit 4 reactor at the Chernobyl power station in Pryp’yat (now in Ukraine) exploded. The explosion and subsequent fires released more than 400 times the amount of radioactive fallout as the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. The official response to the disaster would be a test of Gorbachev’s doctrine of openness, and, in that regard, glasnost would be found fatally wanting. Communist Party officials acted quickly to suppress information about the severity of the disaster, going as far as to order that May Day parades and celebrations in the affected area should proceed as planned despite the known risk of radiation exposure. Western reports about the dangerously high levels of wind-transported radioactivity were dismissed as gossip, while apparatchiks quietly collected Geiger counters from science classrooms. Workers were finally able to bring the radiation leak under control on May 4, but Gorbachev did not issue an official statement to the public until May 14, 18 days after the disaster. He characterized the incident at Chernobyl as a “misfortune” and pilloried Western media coverage as a “highly immoral campaign” of “malicious lies.” Over time, Communist Party propaganda was increasingly at odds with the daily experiences of those in the contamination zone who were dealing with the physical effects of radiation poisoning. Whatever trust remained in the Soviet system had been shattered. Decades later, Gorbachev marked the anniversary of the disaster by stating, “even more than my launch of perestroika, [Chernobyl] was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later.”
Md. Kamrul Hasan
Technical Officer(Physics Lab),
Main Campus, Daffodil International University.
ID- 710002023
Contact No.- 01716295093, 01847334883, Ext: 134