“The worst thing we’ve seen since Hiroshima.” US simulated Russian nuclear strikes on Ukraine

"The worst thing we've seen since Hiroshima."  US simulated Russian nuclear strikes on Ukraine

Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons forces Western countries to analyze the possible actions of Russia.

The Pentagon, American nuclear laboratories and intelligence agencies have been engaged in computer simulations of possible nuclear strikes and their consequences for months in order to understand how the United States should act, writes The New York Times (NYT). This task is difficult, since tactical nuclear weapons come in different sizes and powers, and different means can be used to deliver them. For example, warheads can be mounted on Kalibr cruise missiles or Iskander ballistic missiles, built into an artillery shell, or even delivered by truck.

Their power varies greatly, but the minimum is 10 kilotons of TNT, according to the Stockholm Institute for Peace Research. The power of the bomb dropped in 1945 on Hiroshima exceeded 15 kilotons. The possible use of even a minimally sized bomb in the Ukraine conflict is “the worst thing we’ve seen since Hiroshima,” Daryl Kimbal, executive director of the US Arms Control Association, told Bloomberg. As a result of that explosion, buildings on the territory of 12 square meters were destroyed. km, 70,000 people died immediately and tens of thousands more – subsequently from radiation.

Due to the uncertainty associated with the power of the bomb that could be used, the nature of the strike itself (it could be just a show of force in a desert area, such as over the Black Sea, an attack on military targets or even settlements), as well as numerous other factors the results of the computer simulations “differ dramatically,” a US official familiar with them told the NYT.

Even the wind can be a problem: it could easily carry the radiation from the explosion back to Russian territory, one of the risks Western experts say far outweigh the benefits of using nuclear weapons. Western countries will try to win over to their side India, China and other states that so far occupy a more or less neutral position in relation to Russia. Last week, Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to President Joe Biden, threatened Russia with “catastrophic consequences.”

If Putin decides to use nuclear weapons, he will likely choose a military target in Ukraine for a demonstrative strike, said Bloomberg, on condition of anonymity, a person close to the Russian Ministry of Defense. Meanwhile, The Times newspaper, citing high-ranking military sources, writes that Russia getting ready conduct nuclear tests on the borders with Ukraine.

Russia has about 1,900 tactical nuclear weapons. The United States has 230 left – after the Cold War, they decided that tactical charges would not be useful on the battlefield, conventional weapons were more effective. Over the weekend, former CIA Director David Petraeus declaredthat if Putin uses tactical nuclear weapons, the United States will not respond with a nuclear strike, but will destroy all Russian troops and equipment in Ukraine, as well as sink the Black Sea Fleet.

While missiles are on constant combat duty in the strategic forces, tactical charges are stored in special bunkers in different regions of Russia. It takes time to move them to delivery vehicles. “At a certain level of readiness, the charges are taken out of storage and delivered to some other place, which takes several days. This can be tracked by satellites or other means,” says Pavel Podvig, a nuclear security expert at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.

So far, according to US and European officials, there are no signs of such preparation, and nuclear threats remain a rhetorical device.

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