Little Boy, Fat Man and Iran

“Little Boy” and “Fat Man” were the names given to the first two nuclear weapons ever dropped on civilian populations. Japan was the target. It happened toward the end of World War II.

Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima from a B-29 bomber, piloted by US Army Air Force Col. Paul W. Tibbets, who named his plane “Enola Gay” in honor of his mother, the night before the atomic attack.

Fat Man, was a more complicated and powerful plutonium weapon with a force equal to 20 kilotons of TNT devastating more that two square miles of Nagasaki and caused approximately 45,000 immediate deaths..

The wallop that hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and August 9th, 1945, ended the war that was already about to end and left a metallic taste in everybody’s mouth. These unnecessary and militarily useless acts, falsely postulating it would end the war sooner, has caused the United States a legacy of shame.

History has a way of reincarnating itself as well as repeating itself.

Do we have, today, a reincarnation of Little Boy, a small nation in the Middle East, alleged to have an arsenal of 200 or more nuclear weapons, threatening and attacking its neighbors?

And do we have a Fat Man, massively endowed with nuclear weapons, in a special relationship with Little Boy, who goes about threatening and attacking smaller and weaker nations?

Daniel Pipes, American historian and counter terrorism analyst who specializes in the Middle East, had this to say about it: “by special relationship they mean that relations between the two countries have over the last half century blossomed not just into a thick forest of diplomatic and military links, but also into a unique range of economic, academic, religious and personal bonds. From a comparative perspective, the United States and Israel may well be the most extraordinary tie in international politics.”

Mearsheimer and Walt, University professors, who stirred a controversy with their joint article called “The Israel Lobby”, published in the London Review of Books, put it this way: “The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread democracy, throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history Israel has been the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance since 1976and since World War II, to the tune of well over $140 billion (in 2004 dollars).”

We all know about the “special relationship” between the United States and Israel and we all know of America’s zealous support of “Israel’s right to defend itself.”

We have all heard President George W. Bush exclaim, repeatedly, that he would not stand for any Middle East nation having a nuclear weapon”except, apparently, for Israel’s alleged 200 or more nuclear weapons in its arsenal.

Bush went to war with Iraq in March of 2003 because of its alleged weapons of mass destruction which turned out to be non-existent. (Other reasons were devised later.)

Bush is now threatening Iran because it has a nuclear program and is enriching uranium; for nuclear power, the Iranians say, but it’s not a stretch to believe they will go for a weapon, just as North Korea did when it was threatened by Fat Boy.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT or NNPT) was signed by 189 nations beginning in 1981 for the purpose of limiting the spread of nuclear weapons. The eight confirmed nuclear powers (those who have openly tested nuclear weapons) and the one presumed nuclear power (Israel) have neither signed nor ratified the treaty.

Most signers claim that Article VI of the treaty constitutes a formal and specific obligation on the part of the major nuclear powers to disarm themselves of nuclear weapons and have decried the fact they have failed to do so.

The last time the “big two”, the US and Russia, even tried to cut down on the number of warheads each had, the effort ended in failure. A treaty signed in Moscow with great fanfare by President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin, in May of 2002, called on both sides to reduce their strategic nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 by the year 2012.

It hasn’t happened yet and it doesn’t look as though it ever will. US Undersecretary of Energy Linton Brooks told a Senate Subcommittee that the retained warheads will be needed for routine maintenance of the arsenal, for meeting “commitments to allies,” and to address threats that may arise in the future. Was he thinking of the attack on Iraq in 2003?

The current US nuclear arsenal is estimated by experts to contain between 6,500 and 7,000 weapons.

Would Fat Boy think of going to war to stop Ahmadinejad from getting the bomb?

“It is too late to stop the progress of Iran,” Ahmadinejad told reporters at a defiant news conference. “We have broken through to a new stage and it is too late to push us back.”

Ahmadinejad also warned the UN Security Council, telling the world body not to risk playing with a “lion’s tail”. “They say that Iran is a lion sat down in a corner. And we tell them: Do not play with the lion’s tail.”

Maybe a lion’s tail can break a Fat Boy. Remember, he’s in a corner and he has the right to defend himself. So says the United Nations Charter.

So don’t be too hard on Ahmadinejad of Iran. He may be looking for a deterrent weapon as he sees Little Boy and Fat Man coming at him.

STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN, television writer-director-producer, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC, starting in 1953. In 1959, he participated in the formation of the renowned Murrow-Friendly “CBS Reports” series. In 1983, Fleischman won the prestigious Columbia University-DuPont Television Journalism Award. In 2004, he wrote his memoir. See:, E-mail:



STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN, writer-producer-director of documentaries, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC. His memoir is now in print. See, e-mail