Friday, September 16, 2005

Photos of Our Nuclear Landscape

In a forthcoming post, I plan to discuss the role that the American nuclear arsenal may soon come to play in the Bush Administration's "war on terrorism." Before doing that, however, I want to offer an opportunity for you to get reacquainted with that arsenal. It has been out of the spotlight since 9/11 when, suddenly, attention shifted from the nuclear weapons that we know are out there (in American, Russian, Chinese, and other stockpiles) to those that we fear might be out there.

The United States maintains over 6,000 active nuclear warheads in its stockpile (along with 4,200 additional inactive warheads), according to Natural Resources Defense Council estimates. To see what many of them look like, go to, a strangely beautiful collection of photographs. The site describes itself this way: is the only comprehensive source for independent photographs of U.S. nuclear weapons. It is an exclusive collection produced by Paul Shambroom for his project "Face to Face with the Bomb: Nuclear Reality After the Cold War."

Granted unprecedented access by military officials, Paul has photographed in twenty states and the South Pacific between 1992 and the present. These images reveal in startling, intimate detail the missiles, warheads, bombers, submarines, and command centers that make up the U.S.'s far-flung nuclear infrastructure. They depict both historic Cold War-era weaponry shortly before being mothballed and new warhead designs and missile defense prototypes that may be deployed well into the twenty-first century.

Look at the photos and remember what once was--and may again become--the greatest threat to human security.