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For Book: All-Out Nuclear Attack on a Country
Old 03-24-2017, 11:44 AM   #1
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For Book: All-Out Nuclear Attack on a Country

In the novel I'm currently working on [SPOILER ALERT] the US will launch an all-out nuclear attack on a country of my choosing. It's a bomb-them-back-to-the-stone-age type thing or worse, a bomb-them-to-glass attack.

I need more information on how that would work--how many warheads, etc.

My initial research is showing me that nuclear weapons are less strong (at least in terms of immediate effects) than commonly thought. For example, here's the effect of the US's largest nuclear weapon on Helsinki, Finland.

Can you point me to some resources that will help?

Thanks,

Al
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:55 AM   #2
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Ground detonations or air detonations?
Are you taking into consideration damage as a result of:
a. Fallout?
b. Destruction of available government and other services?
c. Infrastructure damage on the workings of the country?

Desiring to level the entire country (not something we'd generally waste bombs on as random 120 person villages/town don't tend to warrant a nuking) or just specific (main) cities?
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:05 PM   #3
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If it were an advanced economy (i.e. not something like Afghanistan), I would start with a high altitude detonation to produce a large EMP. That would effectively cripple all the infrastructure, power grid, etc. and likely make the ensuing bombardment, invasion, whatever much easier.
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Old 03-24-2017, 01:44 PM   #4
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Keep in mind that any nation launching a first strike as you are proposing would still need to retain enough nuclear capability to credibly deter a strike, or more likely the threat of a strike, by any other nation.
Lots of potential intrigue. Warning (how much) to other countries that have the US targeted? Reliability of the nuclear chain of command for such a strike.
Airburst is much less dirty than a ground detonation.
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Old 03-24-2017, 02:03 PM   #5
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Ground detonations or air detonations?
Are you taking into consideration damage as a result of:
a. Fallout?
b. Destruction of available government and other services?
c. Infrastructure damage on the workings of the country?

Desiring to level the entire country (not something we'd generally waste bombs on as random 120 person villages/town don't tend to warrant a nuking) or just specific (main) cities?

I would up my yield... and also do an air burst... more destructive from what I have read...

A nice 15 megaton air blast in NYC will cause 6 million dead and 4 million injuries... thermal radiation going out almost 40KMs....


Also, you can do a few double or triple shots just for fun... back in the 70s I was reading something that said that the Houston area was targeted for 3 nukes since we had so much O&G infrastructure.... it was the only place in the US that got 3....
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Old 03-24-2017, 02:30 PM   #6
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Whoa, reminds me of what I did for a living (for a while anyhow) back in ze good old days (1980s).

Google is your friend here, there are a tremendous amount of resources on-line to model the effects of nuclear weapons. Some of the limited strike scenarios on the US for example will really wake you up.

For starters, try playing around here:

https://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/

https://www.fourmilab.ch/bombcalc/

The bottom line is that it would take very few weapons to completely ruin ANY country's day, an "all-out" attack is not needed. The Cuban Missile Crisis and the unknown Soviet tactical weapons comes to mind.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: A Political Perspective After 40 Years

I'm glad thats over for the most part. HTH


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Old 03-24-2017, 03:23 PM   #7
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For a nicely done scene of nuclear carpet bombing of a continent by the US military try the last few pages of "The Trade of Queens" by Charles Stross.
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Old 03-24-2017, 03:30 PM   #8
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Also, just to say it: The US >government< would likely go to war with the >government< of Farawayastan, not the nation of Farawayastan or the population of Farawayastan. There's just not much point and there's much downside (talking just pragmatics, not morality) in "bombing a country back to the stone age." That's why it's not the kind of terminology used in serious policy circles.
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Old 03-24-2017, 04:29 PM   #9
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I see someone has already pointed to Nukemap, which should be very helpful. Way back in the day, I learned to do all those calculations by hand. As I recall, one of our exams was calculating the proper yield, detonation height and geographic center of aim to give everyone in Candlestick Park third degree burns, but not destroy the Mare Island Naval Shipyard.

I don't know the size or air defenses of your intended target country, but that may make a difference in your tactics. As you probably know, there are three main means of delivery: 1) land based Minuteman missiles - very accurate and can be used for first strike on your adversary's strategic assets, but they are in a fixed location and vulnerable to a first strike by your adversary; 2) submarine based Trident missiles -- less accurate, but accurate enough to destroy a city, and very survivable, which is why they are typically thought of as a second strike weapon; 3) strategic bombers (B1 and B52) -- able to call them back at the last minute if necessary, but less chance of making it to the intended target in an area of sophisticated anti-air defenses.

Additionally, there are practical questions. For example, you wouldn't want a ballistic missile to reach its target while your bombers are airborne in that area, but headed for a different target. The bombers also take a lot more time to get to their targets than the missiles do. So coordination is imperative.

Finally, don't assume that the entire nuclear arsenal is available for use. As just one example, probably only about 4-5 of our 14 SSBNs are on patrol at any one time. The others are in homeport, refitting or training, or in the shipyard. I'm sure there are maintenance outages for the land based missiles and the bombers as well.
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Old 03-24-2017, 04:46 PM   #10
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Keep in mind that the US has only 80-100 nuke capable bombers operational at any one time and they are only stationed in three places.
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Old 03-24-2017, 05:03 PM   #11
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Keep in mind that the US has only 80-100 nuke capable bombers operational at any one time and they are only stationed in three places.
B52's loaded with rotary launched nuke cruise missiles can do the job nicely! An old workhorse of doom for our enemies.
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Old 03-25-2017, 09:23 AM   #12
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Okay, that should get me started.

The purpose is to kill as many people as possible.

Imagine a Columbine or Aurora situation, but the shooter is the president, using nuclear weapons instead of an assault rifle.
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Old 03-25-2017, 09:56 AM   #13
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Okay, that should get me started.

The purpose is to kill as many people as possible.

Imagine a Columbine or Aurora situation, but the shooter is the president, using nuclear weapons instead of an assault rifle.

If you want to kill as many people as you can then you need a country or area that has a lot... that means China.... but that is a lot of land area... so looking at the list I go with Pakistan (someone else has already suggested)... it has 2 highly populated cities and is small enough to nuke easily...



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._by_population
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:00 PM   #14
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Here's where I stand right now. I'm keeping things (somewhat) vague. Please let me know of any suggested modifications.

The US president launches eighteen intercontinental and five submarine-launched ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. The targets are spread out over North Korea. [The population of North Korea is 25 million when the story takes place.]

As of weeks later:

Over thirty million people had already died as a result of the nuclear attack on North Korea. Experts predicted another thirty million would perish from the fallout.

The continuous coverage of the death and suffering, however, showed people the error of those thoughts. The destruction wasn’t limited to the Korean peninsula. The radioactive dust cloud traveled northeast, and vast areas of China and Russia had to be evacuated. Much of Korea was still burning. Experts told us we’d escape a nuclear winter but predicted we’d suffer through a decade of global cooling, with temperatures as much as eleven degrees below zero.
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:12 PM   #15
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No nuke expert by any means. Years ago seem to remember reading about neutron bombs to preserve some of the architecture and infrastructure, it would just do away the those pesky human beings.

From wiki

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron_bomb

"A neutron bomb, officially termed as a type of Enhanced Radiation Weapon (ERW), is a low yield thermonuclear weapon designed to maximize lethal neutron radiation in the immediate vicinity of the blast while minimizing the physical power of the blast itself. The neutron release generated by a nuclear fusion reaction is intentionally allowed to escape the weapon, rather than being absorbed by its other components.[3] The neutron burst, which is used as the primary destructive action of the warhead, is able to penetrate enemy armor more effectively than a conventional warhead thus making it more lethal as a tactical weapon."

Edit add: Another source:

http://www.fact-index.com/n/ne/neutron_bomb_1.html

"A neutron bomb is a type of nuclear weapon specifically designed not to produce a massive explosion and significant infrastructure damage, but rather to completely irradiate an area with neutron radiation, killing all living things while leaving the infrastructure relatively intact. Though a neutron bomb does cause infrastructure damage and some long term radiation (it is still a nuclear weapon after all), they are specifically designed so that ~48 hours after the device is detonated, friendly troops can move into an area and utilize the infrastructure without fear of radiation. Thus, neutron bombs are generally seen more as a tactical nuclear weapon than a strategic one. Due to this focus on tactical use, neutron bombs comprise some of the smallest nuclear weapons ever built (though the American bazooka-launched Davy Crockett warhead is not, as is sometimes claimed, a neutron bomb device -- it employs a standard fission warhead).
Technical Overview

Neutron bombs, also called enhanced radiation weapons (ER), are small nuclear weapons in which the burst of neutrons generated by the fusion reaction is intentionally not absorbed inside the weapon, but allowed to escape. The X-ray mirrors and shell of the weapon are made of chromium or nickel so that the neutrons are permitted to escape. This intense burst of high-energy neutrons is the principle destructive mechanism. Neutrons are more penetrating than other types of radiation so many shielding materials that work well against gamma rays do not work nearly as well. The term "enhanced radiation" refers only to the burst of ionizing radiation released at the moment of detonation, not to any enhancement of residual radiation in fallout (contrast this with salted bombs)."

2nd edit: An interview with the neutron bomb's inventor, Cohen. His opinion on the nuclear give and take and effectiveness of them in 1997

http://www.manuelsweb.com/sam_cohen.htm
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Old 03-30-2017, 03:00 PM   #16
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Just curious Al -- How do the Russians and the Chinese react to the radioactive cloud forcing mass evacuations of their territory ?? Don't give away major plot lines but having it's population bathed in Nuclear Fallout is not a thing to be taken lightly. There would be a retaliatory strike on US Soil, no ?

North Korea is not too far away from the Stone Age right now......a good ol' fashioned Incendiary Carpet Bombing of Pyongyang followed by a surge led by South Korean troops would probably capture the flag.
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Old 03-30-2017, 04:05 PM   #17
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Just curious Al -- How do the Russians and the Chinese react to the radioactive cloud forcing mass evacuations of their territory ?? Don't give away major plot lines but having it's population bathed in Nuclear Fallout is not a thing to be taken lightly. There would be a retaliatory strike on US Soil, no?
Excellent point. I'll have to treat that somehow. Basically, the attack happens because the president is crazy. So, the US will be telling Russia and China, "Oops. My bad!"

Perhaps I'll add something along the lines of "back channel communications were used to warn Russia that the president had gone rogue, and that only NK was being targeted. Major concessions were needed, blah, US paid reparations, blah blah.
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Old 03-30-2017, 04:54 PM   #18
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North Korea is within the band of latitude for the prevailing westerlies. Therefore, normal weather patterns would make the fallout move to the east -- over Japan.
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Old 03-30-2017, 07:33 PM   #19
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North Korea is within the band of latitude for the prevailing westerlies. Therefore, normal weather patterns would make the fallout move to the east -- over Japan.
Ah, good. I got that from this, but playing around wit that, it looks like that always sends the fallout to the northeast. Thanks.

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Old 03-30-2017, 08:06 PM   #20
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Okay, that should get me started.

The purpose is to kill as many people as possible.

Imagine a Columbine or Aurora situation, but the shooter is the president, using nuclear weapons instead of an assault rifle.
Explain how this is not a political thread?
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