The Soviet authorities, who did not publicly acknowledge that the accident at Chernobyl had occurred for two days, were monitoring weather conditions which were sending heavily radioactive clouds northeast from the Ukraine towards heavily populated cities in Russia, including Moscow. They took the decision to force the weather, sending Air Force pilots equipped with Silver Iodide into the clouds. Under conditions of Soviet secrecy, the population of Gomel was not warned that cloud seeding was taken place, and no mitigation strategy, such as the distribution of potassium iodide tablets against radiation sickness, was undertaken. Those on the ground were exposed to radiation twenty to thirty times higher than normal, causing many, particularly children, to develop leukemias and thyroid cancers — but potentially saving millions more from exposure elsewhere.

James Bridle, Cloud thinking