There’s been a lot of buzz on the internet in the last couple days over a massive fire and series of explosions at a coalition base – Camp Falcon – on the outskirts of Baghdad. It’s still unclear what caused it – some reports say insurgent mortar fire, others blame a rocket or missile, and there’s no word on any casualties.
There seem to be a lot of people who believe that one of the explosions (visible in many of the YouTube videos of the fire) was a small nuclear weapon detonating, because of the subsequent mushroom cloud.
It’s just not so.
First of all, digital cameras at night don’t deal very well with bright light sources, as anyone who’s tried to shoot fireworks can attest. This makes the explosions seem a lot larger than they really are, as lens flare and sensor oversaturation create the illusion of a comparatively much larger event.
Secondly, most of the footage originates from a single camera, several miles away, zoomed heavily, which, at night, without any good references in view, creates a number of distortions, particularly with regard to scale and perspective.
Most importantly, though, is that the reasoning behind the theories of a nuclear explosion are flawed, in that they rely on the assumption that a nuclear device is the only thing that produces a mushroom cloud. It’s not the case; any large explosion, under the right conditions, can do so.
In 1991, during Desert Shield, American forces dropped either a 21,000 pound GBU-43 MOAB, or an 18,000-pound Daisy Cutter (reports differ), on an Iraqi installation some distance west of Baghdad, at night. British special forces operating in the area observed the explosion, which they had not been forewarned of, and resulting mushroom cloud, and reported it as a nuclear detonation. If trained, experienced military personnel can mistake a large conventional explosion for a nuclear weapon, it’s certainly understandable that untrained laymen can do so.
If a nuclear weapon had detonated at Camp Falcon last week – even a nuclear artillery shell, or one of the tiny little cold-war era air-to-air “Genie” missiles, the results would be impossible for anyone to cover up. Thousands of American and coalition soldiers, as well as Iraqis, would even now be incapicitated by radiation sickness, and hundreds would die every day. Further, the U.S. is not the only country with satellites in space carrying equipment designed to detect surface nuclear explosions, and to suppose that such a detection, had it happened, would not be disclosed one way or another by now is fairly ridiculous.
There was no nuclear explosion. I know it’s fun to complain about conspiracies and how the horrible the media is, but there’s nothing to cover up, except how an ammunition depot that should have been designed so that something like what happened, can’t, wasn’t.