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Lets say, God forbid, that our country got involved in a nuclear war with N.Korea. Does anyone here know what would happen if a nuclear bomb went off anywhere in the world? Would it affect the climate, environment, etc? If a nuclear bomb went off in a city, how extensive would the damage be? Is there anyone here that can describe what it would be like? Just curious (and a little scared).
11-27-2004, 07:20 AM
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Is there anyone here that can describe what it would be like? Just curious (and a little scared).
"The threat of nuclear terrorism is not limited to New York City or Washington, DC. While New York is widely seen as the most likely target, it is clear that Al Qaeda is not only capable but also interested in mounting attacks on other American cities, where people may be less prepared. Imagine the consequences of a 10-kiloton weapon exploding in San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Charlotte, or any other city Americans call home. From the epicenter of the blast to a distance of approximately one-third mile, every structure will be destroyed and no one would be left alive. A second circle of destruction extending three-quarters of a mile from ground zero would leave buildings looking like the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City. A third circle reaching out 1 mile would be ravaged by fires and radiation."
Nuclear Blastmaps (http://www.nuclearterror.org./blastmaps.html)
Frequently Asked Questions about Nuclear Terrorism (http://www.nuclearterror.org./faq.html)
11-27-2004, 11:43 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote nhp:</font><hr> Lets say, God forbid, that our country got involved in a nuclear war with N.Korea. Does anyone here know what would happen if a nuclear bomb went off anywhere in the world? Would it affect the climate, environment, etc? If a nuclear bomb went off in a city, how extensive would the damage be? Is there anyone here that can describe what it would be like? Just curious (and a little scared).
The PDRK (North Korea) would have very little to gain, and everything to lose if they were to attack the US with nuclear weapons. The range of their missiles is currently limited to HI, CA, AK, and the Pacific Northwest. Such an attack would gain the PDRK nothing, and would most certainly result in their complete and utter destruction.
In the 50's and early 60's nuclear weapons (including massive yield hydrogen bombs) were routinely tested in above ground tests by the US, UK, USSR, France, and China. These tests did not produce any serious climatological changes. The main danger from above ground tests came from radioactive fallout which was forced up high into the atmosphere and then traveled around the globe eventually coming down to earth were it could be ingested by people and livestock. Above ground testing was eventually banned by international treaty due to growing worldwide concern over nuclear contamination.
There are two basic types of nuclear weapons fission (aka: "atomic") and fusion (aka:"hydrogen"). The effects of a nuclear strike depend on what type of weapon (fission or fusion), the weapon's yield (more on this below), the design of the weapon, and mode of employment (air burst or ground burst).
Fission bombs derive their power from nuclear fission, where heavy nuclei (uranium or plutonium) split into lighter elements when bombarded by neutrons (producing more neutrons which bombard other nuclei, triggering a nuclear chain reaction). These are historically called atom bombs or A-bombs, though this name is not precise due to the fact that chemical reactions release energy from atomic bonds and fusion is no less atomic than fission. Despite this possible confusion, the term atom bomb has still been generally accepted to refer specifically to nuclear weapons, and most commonly to pure fission devices.
Fusion bombs are based on nuclear fusion where light nuclei such as hydrogen and helium combine together into heavier elements and release large amounts of energy. Weapons which have a fusion stage are also referred to as hydrogen bombs or H-bombs because of their primary fuel, or thermonuclear weapons because fusion reactions require extremely high temperatures for a chain reaction to occur.
Nuclear weapons are often described as either fission or fusion devices based on the dominant source of the weapon's energy. The distinction between these two types of weapon is blurred by the fact that they are combined in nearly all complex modern weapons: a smaller fission bomb is first used to reach the necessary conditions of high temperature and pressure to allow fusion to occur. On the other hand, a fission device is more efficient when a fusion core first boosts the weapon's energy. Since the distinguishing feature of both fission and fusion weapons is that they release energy from transformations of the atomic nucleus, the most accurate general term for all types of these explosive devices is "nuclear weapon."
The energy released from a nuclear weapon comes in four primary categories:
Blast—40-60% of total energy
Thermal radiation—30-50% of total energy
Ionizing radiation—5% of total energy
Residual radiation (fallout)—5-10% of total energy
The amount of energy released in each form depends on the design of the weapon, and the environment in which it is detonated. The residual radiation of fallout is a delayed release of energy, while the other three forms of energy release are immediate.
The dominant effects of a nuclear weapon (the blast and thermal radiation) are the same physical damage mechanisms as conventional explosives. The primary difference is that nuclear weapons are capable of releasing much larger amounts of energy at once. Most of the damage caused by a nuclear weapon is not directly related to the nuclear process of energy release, but would be present for any explosion of the same magnitude.
Yield is expressed in terms of KT's (kilotons) or MT's (megatons). One KT is equivalent to 1000 tons of TNT, one MT is equivalent to 1,000,000 tons of TNT. The device dropped on Hiroshima was approx 12.5 KT.
If you are not within the immediate blast zone chances are good that you can survive a nuclear explosion. How long you can survive afterwards depends on what if any preparations you have made in terms of shelter, food, medicine (particularly potassium iodide), and self defense.
Here is a link that can help you understand the likely consequences of a 1 MT and a 25 MT blast:
Nuclear Blast Effects (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bomb/sfeature/mapablast.html)
11-27-2004, 01:56 PM
The effects would depend on the type of bomb and whether it was a ground blast or an air blast. Air blast bombs do not create any fallout, and the effects of the radiation dissipate pretty rapidly. Ground blasts create fallout in the region downwind of the blast area.
North Korea's nukes are fission devices, and most likely are in the 50KT range. You can look at SF's link to see the effects of a 50KT device.
NorK's delivery systems are primarily short and meduim range ballistic missiles, in the form of Scud variants that could hit South Korea, and Nodong-1 and 2's, which could hit Japan and Okinawa. The Taepo Dong-2 is an ICBM that could theoretically hit the west coast of the US, but it has never been successfully tested by NorK.
The ICBM threat from NorK is not really that great. It's one thing to send something up, it's another thing entirely to survive re-entry and come back on target. NorK has not shown that they are capable of this, and frankly, given the problems with their MRBM's and failed ground tests of the first stage of the Taepo Dong-2, I doubt that they could do it. Taepo Dong-2 also has very a high CEP, so actually hitting a city with one would be a "golden BB" shot. The missile is first and foremost a blackmail weapon, not so much a strategic threat.
There is a slight possibility that they could pull off a HANE (High Altitude Nuclear Explosion), and this has the potential to wreak havoc on communication sattellites in Low Earth Orbit by disabling them with the EMP. Our military sats are shielded against this, but civilian comsats are not. So there is a potential for major disruptions of communications, since all LD phone calls, pagers, television, etc. uses these satellites.
The odds of a shooting war with NorK are low. Kim is primarily using his nukes to blackmail the west into economic aid. Even a crazy nut like Kim knows that any actual attack on the US would result in total destruction of NorK. The biggest threat to the US is that he could pass a nuclear device to someone who is crazy enough to actually use it, like bin Laden. This is why we have been putting so much pressure on China to contain Kim, and why bilateral talks are not a good idea. We need China in the loop.
Getting information out of NorK is not easy. Civilians are not allowed to travel to the outside world, cell phones are prohibited, and contact with foreigners is not permitted.
But people defect, and it is possible to draw conclusions based on events that cannot be hidden from prying western eyes.
China is very frustrated with Kim, and there is growing evidence that Beijing is getting just a little short-tempered, and may be planning to get rid of him. China has a growing refugee problem in the provinces around the border, and Beijing certainly doesn't want a nuclear exchange on the peninsula. Radiation ignores borders, and China would be stuck with maybe a million new refugees almost overnight.
Last year China moved 150,000 troops to the border, and moved the National Police back. Over the last couple years, approx 130 top DPRK generals have defected to China, and some of them are stationed on the border in command of PLA troops. This represents about 10% of NorK's command structure. Some of these generals are very popular with the North Korean people.
There are reports that the posters and murals of Kim have been disappearing, especially in the north, and being replaced with dissident signs which do not get removed. There was the mysterious blast last spring that narrowly missed Kim's train as he returned from meetings in China, and the huge blast a couple months ago that has yet to be explained. The sattellite images that I've seen indicate that the most recent one took out a NorK missile facility that was preparing to test either the Taepo Dong-2 or a nuclear warhead.
The US mysteriously downplayed the blast, which means that we know what happened but don't want to talk about it. It's very possible that China was sending a message to Kim, and that we were notified in advance. The initial reports came out of Japan and were confirmed by european sources, but everyone suddenly backpedalled when Powell came out and said "There was no explosion". Lol, it was big enough to be seen from space!
So Kim's hold may be weakening, and regime change instigated by China is not out of the question. Most western analysts believe China is setting up a buffer zone along the border in case things heat up. I would not be at all surprised to wake up one morning and find that a military coup had taken place with China's backing. China simply cannot afford a confrontation with the west at this time, it would cause them innumerable problems. And Kim is seen as very unpredictable, which gives Beijing major heartburn.
So I strongly doubt that the US will get into a shooting war with NorK, mainly because China has too much to lose.
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