Nuclear Threat: UK Should Consider ‘Dusting Off’ Cold War ‘Protect and Survive’ Media | Science | New

Protect and Survive – Action after Warnings

Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons expert Colonel Hamish of Bretton-Gordon said: “It’s kind of a fine line between reassuring and actually terrifying people. “I think that’s one of the issues we have right now.” However, he added, “people are realizing that in fact, [the risk of] either a nuclear accident or the direct use of nuclear weapons at present has never been so high since the cold war.

As recently as Thursday, in fact, the only remaining electrical connection to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – a vital link to keep the reactors cool – was accidentally cut, thankfully only temporarily.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attributed the incident to fires started by Russian bombing; Russia, on the other hand, claimed the Ukrainian bombing was culprit and on Friday claimed to have destroyed the weapon responsible.

Either way, Mr Zelenskiy said the power cut had put “Ukraine and all Europeans in a situation one step away from a radioactive disaster”.

Russia has also claimed to have wired some of the nuclear reactors with explosives, ready to detonate them – although Bretton-Gordon’s Colonel says he finds this “unlikely” suggestion to be true.

We should think about dusting off Cold War-era “Protect and Survive” media, one expert says. (Image: UK Government/Her Majesty’s Stationery Office)

Colonel Hamish of Bretton-Gordon

The suggestion came from nuclear weapons expert Colonel Hamish of Bretton-Gordon (Image: Twitter / @HamishDBG)

However, Colonel de Bretton-Gordon cautioned: “I think we have to be realistic.

“You know, what happens in Ukraine – thousands of miles to the east – will have a direct impact on us, whether it’s the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that catches fire and creates the contamination that would probably happen, or many less likely in fact. Russia is threatening us.

“Well, Russia threatens us daily with nuclear weapons, but if they actually use them, that’s another point.

“Personally, I think it’s a matter of risk. And Putin is a master of this art.

“Our next leader, whoever he is, needs to make sure he’s as good as or better than Putin at this.”

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Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

This week, the remaining operational electrical connection to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was cut off (Image: Getty Images)

An infographic on Ukrainian nuclear power plants

Russia claimed to have wired some of Ukraine’s nuclear reactors with explosives (Image:

There are, Colonel de Bretton-Gordon noted, other areas where we must be prepared to deal with the potential nuclear threat posed by Putin.

He said: “During the Cold War there were active measures to try to protect the population, which fell into disuse.”

For example, the expert noted, once “there were a whole series of underground bunkers across the country to ensure that the government and others continued to function. I think there were up to 600 in total. Now there may be one or two.

And then, of course, there were the iconic “Protect and Survive” public information films, which explained how best to act in the event of a nuclear attack and the resulting fallout.

Measures included preparedness – such as having supplies of canned food stored ready and creating spaces in which to shelter – and how long to stay indoors following an attack.

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An infographic on Putin's nuclear threat to the UK

Pictured: Putin’s nuclear threat to the UK (Image:

Col de Bretton-Gordon said: “I’m not saying we should go, but it’s certainly worth dusting off all of our standard operating procedures.”

In the United States, he noted, government websites still maintain basic advice on what to do in the event of a nuclear fallout.

He added: ‘What the Americans have done is probably right, but you won’t see the same type of information on UK government sites at this stage.

Some of the systems put in place around local authorities to tackle the Covid pandemic, the colonel said, could well be repurposed to help prepare for a nuclear disaster if the situation in Ukraine developed further.

The Colonel has already been involved in creating a resource that’s not too far removed from “Protect and Survive” – ​​albeit for a slightly different form of threat.

He explained, “The final chapter of my memoir deals with how to survive chemical and biological attacks.

“So we publish this for free online in Ukrainian in Ukraine. People have access to it.

“And then with the Thompson Foundation, we created a training and application on what to do in case of chemical and biological attacks.

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