Since 1945 the U.S. government has conducted extensive atomic testing for purposes of protecting the national security and developing industrial uses of nuclear power. Newly available information indicates that many citizens were unwittingly harmed by exposure to radioactive fallout from this testing. The victims are pressuring the government to accept liability for its actions and offer compensation for the damages. To date, however, their efforts have been largely unsuccessful. This article analyzes the politics of the atomic compensation movement, from its beginnings through the 97th Congress. It concludes that, barring the enactment of specific legislation, atomic victims stand little chance of gaining financial compensation or moral satisfaction.

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