Tuesday, January 17, 2006

No nukes is good nukes

: : .

OK, while nukes are topical, I'll return to the theme.

Thesis: in the cold war the main nuclear protagonists must have had the following premise in mind: if we strike first, quickly and with precision, we may be able to win the war without being hit (or with only taking a survivable hit). So, of course, both sides sought to distribute their retaliatory capacity - as well as sitting down and trying to work out how accurate their opponents tech was.

It's no bloody good having a big fucking nuke if you can't aim the bugger - it's still got to land on target. OK, getting the thing to land in the right ten mile radius may well be relatively accurate, but it doesn't mean you'll guarantee you'll get the installation you're aiming for. The obvious answer to that is don't bother aiming - hence the projection in Threads (below) for a massive 3000 megaton exchange - if you can't be accurate be devastating.

Dark-Wraith fairly neatly does the maths on the way nukes can kill, as does Wikipedia. Essentially, if you aren't vaporised by the heat then you get knacked by the overpressure of the blast or the radiation does for you. Joy, joy, joy.

This site gives a blow by blow account of a 150 kiloton bomb ground burst going off in Manhattan. They project 800,000 fatalities and a further 800,000 injuries (and their scenario assumes it's a lone bomb with teh rest of US infrastructure left intact).

OK, so this site allows you to see similar bomb profils for various payloads and types of bomb compared to aerial photos of a selection of US cities.

Now, this is contemporary because of the current state of tension viz Iran's alleged weapons programme. Now, according to the CIA World Factbook Israel has a total area of 20,770 Sq. Km. Using the Maths from Dark Wraith, this means that it would take about two hundred and thirty 150 kiloton bombs to devastate every swaure inch of that country. Fewer, if we go by the second example above, if airburst delivery systems were used.

However, Iran would not need to go that far - although it seems it could have enough uranium to make that many bombs, since it has its own mines. As the Manhattan example shows, the blast could be extraordinarilly devastating is used selectively. The Manhattan projection was for 800,000 killed (from an extraordinarilly dense population). Tel Aviv, according to this site has a population of 371,000. Even if that is less compact, it means a single groundburst 150 kilton bomb could wipe that city off the map.

Imagine if Iran could deliver that strike, Israel could never deliver enough nukes to completely destroy Iran - I can't see it having that many nukes - it's probably working on a targetted nuclear capacity as well.

If the Iranians did just hit Tel Aviv, and no-where else, Israel would be destroyed - adminsitrative capital gone, infrastructure overwhelmed, Arab neighbours necessarilly called in to provide humanitarian assistance.

If Iran did drop one such bomb, what could the world do? Slaughter twice as Many Iranians in retaliation? Invade at the risk of many millions of lives? If its leaders were prepared to engage in an entirely selfless racist atrocity, backed by nukes, we'd be in a world of trouble.

Update: Just checked Cincinnati has a roughly comparable population to Tel Aviv, and is on the list of aerial makes linked to above. 150 kiloton airburst pretty much does for the city.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Ian said...

Out of interest, how would Iran actually get a bomb to Tel Aviv, considering it's about 1,500km from it borders ?

1:25 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Precisely my point about accuracy - it's got ot be a missile (or a long range bomber) - not easy.

1:28 PM  
Blogger ajohnstone said...

20% of Israel's population are classified as Arab-Israeli , plus taking into account the proximity of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians , if Iran did launch that hypothetical nuclear attack , what would the approximation of those peoples casualities be ?
Also would a radio-active contaminated Israel-Palestine be any kind of home-land ?
As an aside , Iran are indeed very busy developing a missile with a range of reaching Israel , which will counter one of the the Israeli German-bought submarines thought to equipped with nuclear missiles and believed to be permanently positioned off shore in the Persian Gulf .

1:40 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

That's why I think they'll look to a precision attack - take out an area where there are relatively fewer Arabs - how many Arabs live in Tel Aviv? Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been rebuilt...

A firestorm is no good.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

I believe the estimates for number of warheads deliverable by Jericho II's go as high as 200. If they fire off everything they've got (quite credible in response to a hit on Tel Aviv), some significant fraction of the Iranian population might survivie. But Iran as an organized political and economic entity would not.

5:17 AM  
Blogger gray said...

it just gets better....

http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,,1690809,00.html

5:16 AM  

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