The Blast!

October 6, 2017

Upcoming Events at the Museum


For information on events, education, museum tours, intern and docent programs, call 702.439.8438 or email

Nevada Community Foundation and Spencer Springs Animal Hospital Each Donate $1,000 to NATM

Our most sincere thanks to John Laub of the Nevada Community Foundation and Susie Costa, owner of Spencer Springs Animal Hospital, for their recent $1,000 donations to the National Atomic Testing Museum.

The Nevada Community Foundation has been supporting community organizations in Southern Nevada for almost three decades, making a lasting impact on thousands of people through their support of charitable investment.

Susie Costa, daughter of Board Trustee Chuck Costa, has been a practicing veterinarian for more than 15 years, and owns the popular Spencer Springs Animal Hospital in Las Vegas.

Our donors–both individual and organizational–are the reason we are able to continue offering the high-quality programming that we do, and we are grateful for their loyal support of our mission.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of becoming a corporate sponsor of the museum, please contact Kathy Powell at for further information.

 Halloween Movie Night: “Hocus Pocus”

Please save the date and plan to join us for a frightfully fun and FREE family event at the end of October: a Halloween movie night at the museum featuring “Hocus Pocus” on Friday, Oct. 27 at 6 p.m.

This classic film stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as three witch sisters resurrected in Salem, Mass., on Halloween night, where two teens, a young girl and an immortal cat work to end their reign of terror for good.

Children in costume will receive free candy, and popcorn and water will be available for purchase (at a steal, we might add)!

 New Artwork on Display at NATM

Our temporary exhibit space, once again, features the artwork of former Test Site worker Dale Cox, along with some newly displayed works by Robert Beckmann.

Bren Tower, P-Tunnel, and an NTS Tower at Sunset are featured in Dale’s work.  Another of his great paintings can be seen in our permanent exhibit near the Underground Testing Control Point.  Dale is a longstanding member of the museum, and we are ever grateful for his continued support and donations to the museum.

The Beckmann pieces on display include the vivid works News Nob and Oak.  Beckmann is well-known for his exhibition The Body of a House, which depicts the rapid destruction of a house by a nuclear blast on the Nevada Test Site.

We are thrilled to have these pieces on display, and hope you’ll come down to see them!

Correspondence From NIRMA

In August, NTSHF vice chair Nelson Cochrane gave a presentation to the Nuclear Information Records Management Association (NIRMA) conference, which took place in Las Vegas.   NIRMA president Rebecca Wessman sent us the following letter:

Dear Nelson,

Thank you so much for speaking at the 2017 NIRMA Conference.  It was truly an honor to have you address the membership on “Operation Argus and High Altitude Nuclear Weapons Testing.”  You made a personal connection with our members, kept them engaged and many attendees wish you would have had a longer time to speak!!

For over 41 years, many organizations have benefited from the guidance and standards that NIRMA provides.  NIRMA is uniquely qualified to provide guidance to commercial and Department of Energy (DOE) facilities in the areas of quality records’ programs, regulatory compliance activities, electronic records initiatives, document management technologies, long term preservation of information and knowledge management issues.  Our goal is to provide a forum for sharing and developing expertise in these areas among our members and interested parties, and to participate in the development and promulgation of related nuclear industry standards.

Your support and commitment to NIRMA is valued!

Thanks again.

Rebecca Wessman

We were thrilled to participate in this conference, which also allowed us to set up a vendor table to interact with attendees, and we gave a well-attended tour of the museum.  We look forward to working with this group again next year!

Museum Store Product Highlight:
Rad Portal Shot Glass

Featuring a radiation symbol and an atomic blast, this shot glass is handy and fun accessory for your home or office.  It retails for $9.95, and is a great way to commemorate your visit to the museum.

You can purchase your shot glass online here.  Your purchases in our store go directly to supporting the museum’s programs and mission–we appreciate your support!

Remember: you can visit the Museum Store any time during museum hours without purchasing admission to the museum.  Come on down and shop for some unique gifts!

In the News

To help keep you up to date on local and global current events in the nuclear world, we share links to relevant items in the news.  The National Atomic Testing Museum does not endorse any views or opinions expressed in these stories; we are sharing for informational purposes only.

The PBS Newshour writes about how a hydrogen bomb test by North Korea might impact the Pacific Ocean, citing examples from American tests conducted there in the 1950s.  Read the full article here.


It is our mission at the National Atomic Testing Museum to document the history of and current events in nuclear testing. We never take a political stance on any issue; rather, we do strive to keep you informed.  In each newsletter, my Spot On column will highlight history and happenings in the nuclear world and at the museum.   

Michael Hall

North Korea Update 21: What Would the Second Korean War Look Like?

When North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, it involved less than 135,000 troops from the North fighting around 98,000 men of the South.  If this scenario played out today, the North Korean Army (KPA) could field a million soldiers with a half million personnel in immediate reserve, and another five million behind them facing 28,500 American soldiers and about 630,000 South Korean (ROK) forces.

In 1950, North Korean forces did not attempt to destroy Seoul. They wanted to push into the south and occupy it as quickly as possible. It soon became a rout for the South Koreans. Huge numbers of refugees flooded southward as tragedy prevailed. In a desperate attempt to destroy the Hangang Bridge across the Han River, ROK forces detonated it with 4,000 civilians still crossing.

No military analyst can guess at exactly what a new Korean war would look like. It is assumed that there would again be a tremendous amount of people attempting to flee Seoul and head south no matter how events transpired. If the United States or Japan had any indication of an impending conflict, they would move to evacuate their own nationals in advance. Japan has about 14,000 citizens working or living in South Korea and they would likely be the first to leave.  Our small contingent of soldiers of the Eighth United States Field Army, or EUSA, may be repositioned from their base near Seoul, but their more than 160,000 family members and civilian support personnel would be airlifted out if time allowed. No one knows what would happen with the 1 million Chinese or the 30,000 Russians in South Korea.

It is a given in almost all scenarios that Seoul would come under a massive artillery bombardment and possibly chemical or nuclear attack. If it remained a conventional exchange, the KPA could fire a half million artillery rounds per hour on Seoul. The refugees would dwarf that of 1950. At least 25 million civilians would be immediately impacted.

In 1950, the North Koreans invaded through the west side of the peninsula near Seoul because the geography and road structure made it a logical route to easily push south. That would remain the case today because the rest of the border between South and North Korea involves difficult terrain. I had the good fortune to interview many Korean War veterans when I participated in a fellowship at the United States Air Force Museum many years ago while doing graduate work at Purdue University. The one fact that all those amazing and brave men repeated in the interviews centered on the fact that the North Korean forces fought almost fanatically, utilizing the difficult terrain, and often massed in great human waves. It is interesting such an impression is so prevalent because initially North Korea did not have more than 75,000 front line and 60,000 reserve soldiers. Today almost all of North Korea’s million-man army is stationed right on the DMZ, so there would likely be no hint of mobilization if an attack came.

By August of 1950, the North Korean forces had rapidly moved into the south. American troops in Japan were being prepared to try to land on the southern tip of the peninsula to form a defensive perimeter. If war came again, U.S. forces would have to once more quickly scramble to get reinforcements onto the peninsula before North Korea could make substantial gains. Former U.S. Army commanders from the Korean theater all worry about how the U.S. will move their reserves on the roads in a future war, which would assuredly be clogged with refugees. Although, that initial U.S. troop response would be small. Substantial U.S. ground forces would take many months to organize and move into the theater.

In 1950, the U.S. had superior air power available, and it greatly helped in the early stages of the war when North Korea had made such dramatic gains.  This would be the case in a new war. Both the American, South Korean and Japanese air forces are vastly superior to those of the DPRK. However, as we have learned during the last 20 years in the Middle East and as we have learned in every war in the 20th Century, air power alone has never won a war. It inevitably takes boots on the ground.

By the end of the Korean War we were able to utilize almost 2 million U.S. troops and support personnel, as well as other United Nations troops to bring the war to a stalemate.  Fielding such numbers again could take at least 24 months and a substantial commitment from the American public. If Korea decided to fight it out in a conventional ground war, America would likely have to return to a draft and commit to a long, expensive conflict. Our way of life and economy would be dramatically impacted. Only a handful of people living in this country today, who also lived through the rationing of World War II and the consumer and price controls of the Korean War, understand the scarifies waging such a conflict would mean. Another point to remember is that in the last Korean War we ended up fighting more than a million Chinese troops, who came to North Korea’s defense. We also inflicted with U.N. forces more than a million Sino casualties. In fact, for much of the world, the conflict is not called the Korean War, it is known as the Sino-American War.

By 1953, American support for the war in Korea waned and talk centered on using nuclear weapons. In President Eisenhower’s memoirs, he said he came into office in 1953 prepared to use nuclear weapons in Korea. It is assumed by most scholars that behind-the-scenes threats of that nature lead China and North Korea (with Russian advisors) to agree to an armistice. That is substantiated by a 1984 release of 2,000 pages of State Department documents, which confirm serious discussions about using nuclear weapons to settle the Korean conflict. Those same considerations would be addressed again in the White House if war came to the Korean Peninsula. The obvious difference now is that it is not just Russia and China that can check America with nuclear arsenals but North Korea itself. (China did not, however, become a nuclear power until 1964.)

There has been endless debate among scholars as to just how willing the former Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and America would have been in using nuclear weapons during the Cold War. The one point most agree on in our post-Cold War period is that if and when a nuclear weapon is used, it will be a different world. Once one nation uses such a weapon there will be much less hesitation for another to use one.

There has been endless debate among scholars as to just how willing the former Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and America would have been in using nuclear weapons during the Cold War.  The vast size of the stockpiles actually created a deterrence to war.

Yet, what we all fear is a triggering event or flash point. Five months before the Cuban missile Crisis in May of 1962, the United States launched its first submarine-launched missile with a nuclear warhead from the USS Ethan Allen in a successful test detonation code-named “Frigate Bird.” Rarely have the great powers ever tested such delivery systems in conjunction with a nuclear test. Of course, after the October 10, 1963, enforcement of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, America and the Soviet Union were confined to only underground testing and could not conduct such a test. China, however, tested nuclear launched warheads after that date.

This was largely in response to President Lyndon Johnson’s public skepticism of the first Chinese nuclear test in 1964. He stated, “Many years and great efforts separate the testing of a first nuclear device from having a stockpile of reliable weapons with effective delivery systems.” In reaction to this, China changed its arranged plans for a following underground test and put its nuclear device on a missile and launched it to prove that they could deliver a nuclear warhead.

History can repeat itself, and this may be where we stand with the next demonstration from North Korea. If they chose to do a live-fire test or demonstration of a nuclear weapon over the Pacific Ocean it may receive the nic-name “Juche Bird.” “Jeffery Lewis of the East Asia Nonproliferation Programme coined this term as an analogy to Frigate Bird and North Korea’s independent nature and the perceived insults American rhetoric has inflicted on Kim Jong Un’s regime. Juche Bird could be a potential flash point.

To become a new member or renew your existing membership, please call. 702.794.5151 or visit our membership page.

You may also purchase a gift membership from the Museum Store and have it sent with a recent copy of The Blast, the museum’s newsletter.  For more information regarding museum memberships, please visit our FAQ page here.


The National Atomic Testing Museum thanks the following corporate donors for their support of the museum:

The National Atomic Testing Museum
755 E. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas
NV 89119-7373
Inquiries 702 794-5151

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