WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — "It may be that it is the Soviet deterrence and diplomacy during the Cold War that saved us, Europeans, from major disasters," Professor Jean Bricmont of the University of Louvain in Belgium, author of "Humanitarian Imperialism," told Sputnik.
For the first time, the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released last week a detailed list of Strategic Air Command potential targets for atomic bombers in the event of war with the Soviet Union, also showing targets on Eastern Europe and China.
"It is interesting to see that the Americans were quite willing to drop atomic bombs on East Berlin. This of course would have had major devastating effects on West Berlin and it shows how much esteem they had for the lives not only of Asians, but also of Europeans," Bricmont noted.
The declassified NARA list includes 179 targets for systematic destruction in Moscow, 145 in Leningrad, 91 in East Berlin and one for each city is simply designated "Population."
This deliberate use of nuclear weapons to target civilian populations constituted a war crime under international Law, University of Illinois Professor of International Law Francis Boyle told Sputnik.
That legal position, Boyle explained, was clear in 1959 and it remains the same today.
"The use of nuclear weapons in combat was, and still is, absolutely prohibited under all circumstances by both conventional and customary international law," he stressed.
Bricmont argued the US willingness to annihilate civilian European populations through the Cold War, even including those in allied nations like Germany as "collateral damage", should serve as a wake-up call for Europeans today.
"The main question today is when will the Europeans realize that our interests are not those of the US and how will we do to liberate ourselves from their domination," Bricmont pointed out.
He suggested that European governments and their financial supporters needed to be intensively questioned about the dangers and potential consequences of their policies of support for NATO and US nuclear deployments today in the light of the new revelations.
"The first step might to ask to our comprador elites: which side are you on?" Bricmont asked.
The use of any nuclear weapons in war is also prohibited by the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocol I of 1977, Boyle added.