What to do if nuclear weapons were launched by hostile countries: survival instructions

(ORDO NEWS) — By early 2022, there were more than 12,700 warheads in the world, according to the Federation of American Scientists. About 90 percent of the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons is located in Russia and the United States. Scientists at Rutgers University in the US state of New Jersey predicted the consequences of a full-scale war between Russia and the United States. The researchers suggested that the use of nuclear weapons could lead to the release of 165 million tons of soot into the atmosphere, causing the onset of a nuclear winter.

What is nuclear war

It would seem that the answer to this question is obvious – a nuclear war is a military conflict between states with the use of nuclear weapons. But in fact, this is not entirely true. The fact is that nuclear weapons are not only strategic, but also tactical. The latter is less powerful and, accordingly, is designed to solve tactical problems. We talked in detail about what tactical nuclear weapons are in this post.

Nuclear war involves the use of strategic nuclear weapons.

The use of tactical nuclear weapons cannot be called a nuclear war. It will not necessarily lead to a retaliatory nuclear strike. It follows that a nuclear war is a military conflict between countries with the use of powerful nuclear warheads, which are weapons of mass destruction. These can be warheads of intercontinental ballistic missiles or even supersonic missiles, as well as aerial bombs with a yield of over 10 kilotons.

Is nuclear war possible?

The United Nations monitors the proliferation, as well as the use and testing of nuclear weapons. In 1968, the organization signed a treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. First of all, this treaty prohibits the nuclear powers from transferring their weapons and means of their creation to other countries. In addition, this document guarantees security for non-nuclear states: in the event of a nuclear attack on a non-nuclear state, the permanent members of the Security Council with nuclear weapons will have to immediately repel the aggression.

The nuclear test ban treaty has been in operation since 1996. Under its provisions, countries are prohibited from testing nuclear weapons in any environment, including space. Thus, the risk of nuclear war is minimized, but in recent times it has been talked about more and more often.

In the US nuclear doctrine, which was published in 2018, it is noted that the United States, by expanding its nuclear potential, will deter Russia from using nuclear weapons. The authors of the doctrine suggested that the new nuclear weapons of Russia and China challenged US military superiority in the Pacific.

In Russia, the use of nuclear weapons is regulated by the Fundamentals of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence. This document defines the military dangers and threats to be neutralized by nuclear deterrence.

The state policy in the field of nuclear deterrence is defensive in nature, aimed at maintaining the potential of nuclear forces at a level sufficient to ensure nuclear deterrence, and guarantees the protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, deterring a potential adversary from aggression against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies.

It is noted that Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction against it and its allies, as well as in the event of aggression using conventional weapons that threatens the existence of the state.

Statement by the leaders of the “nuclear five” countries in 2022

On January 3, 2022, the leaders of Russia, China, Great Britain, France and the United States issued a joint statement to prevent the use of nuclear weapons in war.

“We declare that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it must never be unleashed. Since the use of nuclear weapons would have far-reaching consequences, we also reaffirm that nuclear weapons – as long as they continue to exist – should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression and prevent war. We believe that the further proliferation of such weapons must be prevented,” reads a statement posted on the Kremlin website.

How to understand that a nuclear war has begun?

There are at least two scenarios: a gradual increase in tension and a sudden and massive “preemptive strike.” In the first case, the state will actively and clearly prepare. This time is enough to evacuate away from a possible strike target: industrial and military facilities, airfields, ports and cities. In the second scenario, most people will know about the start of the war only when the missile attack warning system is triggered, followed by the civil defense system.

Between the launches of submarine-based missiles and the first explosions, 10 to 15 minutes will pass. Ground-based missiles reach in 30 minutes.

When the GO is alarmed, electric sirens turn on and howl for three minutes. At the same time, a civil defense signal is transmitted over radio, TV and all available communication channels for two to three minutes: “Attention! Attention! Citizens! Air Alert! Air Alert! and further appeal about the course of action. Public transport stops, escalators in the subway turn on only for descent.

History of nuclear weapons

The history of the creation of nuclear weapons began in 1939. It was then that the physicist Frederic Joliot-Curie discovered the splitting of the uranium nucleus when it absorbs neutrons and patented the design of the uranium bomb. Then, in 1953, the Soviet Union joined in the creation of atomic weapons and eventually mastered the hydrogen bomb.

Academician Andrei Sakharov, who was directly involved in the development of lethal weapons, was subsequently sent into a seven-year exile in Gorky and on December 23, 1986, together with his wife Elena Bonner, returned to Moscow. Sakharov advocated nuclear disarmament until the end of his days. However, not everyone listened to the Soviet dissident, as well as the participants in the Manhattan Project. And the further the past became from us, the more countries wanted to turn into nuclear powers.

And since today the situation in the world is turbulent, no one can rule out the worst case scenario, namely, what to do if someone decides to press the red button and hypersonic weapons carry their cargo to the target, promising the most terrible consequences.

Radiation – streams of photons and other elementary particles or atomic nuclei capable of ionizing matter.

Let’s start with the fact that ionizing radiation or radiation is the energy that comes from a source and propagates in space at the speed of light. This energy has an electric field and an associated magnetic field, creating a ripple effect.

Today, the world’s nuclear arsenal has become much more powerful than during the Cold War. Modern warheads can do thousands of times more damage than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A few years ago, researchers developed a new mathematical model that would allow as many people as possible to survive. The developer of the model, physicist Michael Dillon of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, began development after the US government called for more research into nuclear shelters. After all, after a hypothetical nuclear war, such events will occur that you will have to act very decisively and you need to know what to do. Let me also remind you that a nuclear charge, as a rule, is delivered to the target by missiles. We have already told how ballistic missiles differ from cruise missiles and what else they are. So what to do if a mushroom cloud has grown in front of you?

Improvement of nuclear weapons and the arms race

Real examples of the creation of nuclear weapons forced the technically advanced countries of Europe and Asia to launch their own nuclear programs. So far, nuclear tests have been carried out by:

  • UK (1952, 25 kilotons);
  • France (1960, 60 kilotons);
  • China (1964, 22 kilotons);
  • India (1974, 12 kilotons);
  • Pakistan (1998, 9 kilotons);
  • North Korea (2006 2 kilotons).

The next type of nuclear weapon was the neutron bomb.

The neutron device is based on a low-power thermonuclear charge. During an explosion, the neutron ejection is ahead of the shock wave, increasing the radius of destruction and acting selectively. There is no radiation hazard during an explosion, the neutron flux quickly dissipates. Neutron charges (including artillery ones) are designed to destroy troops and the population, do not destroy equipment, infrastructure facilities.

Top interesting facts

From the interesting facts of the process of invention and improvement of atomic weapons, the following can be distinguished:

  1. Despite the highest level of secrecy, the blueprints and technology of weapons have been repeatedly stolen. In terms of secrecy, Israel ranks first. There is only speculation that Israel possesses nuclear weapons.
  2. The complexity of the process of calculating the implosive scheme for detonating a plutonium bomb became a powerful impetus to the development of cybernetics. The idea of ​​using electronic devices for calculation prompted the invention of computers.
  3. The largest number of warheads is installed in land-based stationary ballistic missiles. But the most dangerous are the multiple warheads of submarine missiles, which can be launched from the sea coasts of Europe and America with a minimum flight time.

The evolution of delivery vehicles

The further evolution of nuclear weapons went along the line of improving the means of delivery. The flight time of high-altitude strategic bombers was calculated in flight hours. In addition, they quickly became available to high-altitude interceptors and anti-aircraft missiles.

Soviet gunsmiths were also from a nuclear artillery shell.

The tactical projectile was not adopted because of the great danger of unauthorized use. The method of launching from the “black suitcase” of the highest authorities (supreme commander) still works.

Ground and submarine ballistic missiles have become the main means of delivering nuclear warheads.

As a result of the evolution of delivery vehicles with nuclear warheads, modern armies are equipping:

  • ballistic intercontinental missiles;
  • anti-aircraft missiles;
  • land and sea “cruise” missiles;
  • submarine-launched missiles (with multiple munitions).

Why are nuclear weapons dangerous?

A nuclear explosion has three mechanisms of destruction: a shock wave, a flash of visible and infrared radiation, and gamma radiation. The nuclear explosion of a bomb or missile warhead that has penetrated a missile defense system is measured in kilotons and megatons of TNT equivalent. For example, B61 thermonuclear bombs, carried by American B-2 Spirit bombers, can be equipped with a charge with a yield of 0.3 to 170 kilotons.

7700 degrees is the maximum surface temperature of the luminous area of ​​the explosion.

It is believed that an explosion with a capacity of 20 kilotons is capable of creating a zone of complete destruction of about one kilometer, and the maximum glow, which can lead to burns, lasts up to 0.3 seconds in an explosion of medium power (10-100 kilotons). The area affected by light radiation, the temperature of which reaches 7700 degrees, is considered the smallest and most destructive.


The power of a nuclear charge is measured in TNT equivalent – kilotons (kt) or megatons (mt). The estimate indicates the amount of trinitrotoluene (the most common explosive in the world) that must be detonated to obtain the same energy.

All nuclear weapons are divided into several groups in terms of power – from ultra-small (less than 1 kt), small (up to 10 kt) and medium (10-100 kt) to large (100 kt-1 mt) and extra-large (more than 1 mt). The power of tactical weapons usually does not exceed 10-15 kt, but may not reach one kiloton.

The most powerful nuclear weapon tested was the Soviet AN602 or “Tsar Bomba” (more than 58 mt). For comparison, the atomic bomb “Kid” was dropped on Hiroshima, the power of which did not exceed 15 kt.

How does a nuclear explosion work?

Both tactical and strategic nuclear weapons act in the same way, the difference is only in the degree of damage. At the moment of the explosion, a fireball and a shock wave propagating far beyond its limits arise in its very epicenter. The explosion is accompanied by light (and heat) radiation and, of course, the release of radioactive particles. They act directly at the time of release, and also infect the area around the epicenter for a long time. In addition, a nuclear explosion gives a powerful electromagnetic impulse – it disables all electronics.

Kill zone

We used one of the “nuclear calculators” available on the web and calculated the consequences of a strike with a yield of only 1 kt (not the most powerful tactical nuclear weapon).

For starters, everyone who is in the epicenter of the explosion will instantly die in the flames of a fireball. In our case, it reaches 80 m in diameter. The blast wave will demolish everything in its path within a radius of 220 m. It is capable of destroying concrete buildings and killing all life in this zone.

A moderate blast wave will spread much further. Within a radius of 460 m, it can damage buildings, and on an area of ​​​​more than 4 km², windows are almost guaranteed to fly out of all buildings. The probability of death due to a moderate blast wave also remains high.

Thermal radiation will spread to 0.5 km. This threatens all living things with at least third-degree burns, as well as serious damage to the eyes due to the bright glow.

Then comes the time for radiation. The dose rate in our case will be equal to 5 Sv (sievert), and the propagation area will be more than 2 km². This means that all life in this area is likely to die.

The average daily dose of radiation for a person (from watching TV or sitting at a computer) is 5-6 µSv (microsievert). At a dose of 1 Sv radiation sickness occurs, a dose of 4-5 Sv can kill with a probability of up to 50%, 6-8 – a 100% lethal dose.

Why is a nuclear explosion dangerous?

A nuclear explosion with a widespread yield of 450 kilotons is theoretically capable of destroying 1.2 million people. Nuclear weapons have five main types of destruction:

  • shock wave
  • flash of visible and infrared radiation
  • penetrating radiation
  • radioactive contamination of the area
  • electromagnetic pulse

Much depends on the type of disruption. In a ground-based nuclear explosion, about 50% of the energy goes to the formation of a shock wave and a funnel in the ground, 30–50% to light radiation, up to 5% to penetrating radiation and electromagnetic radiation, and up to 15% to radioactive contamination of the area.

In an air explosion, the energy is distributed differently: a shock wave – up to 10%, light radiation – 5-8%, and about 85% of the energy goes into penetrating radiation in the form of neutron and gamma radiation.

Air detonation of an atomic charge is used to destroy the accumulation of troops and equipment, cities and ground infrastructure. Ground blasting is used to destroy objects of high strength, such as military or government bunkers and shelters.

Nuclear weapons will destroy all life?

Recently, the number of nuclear warheads on Earth has been greatly reduced. According to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute, the total number of nuclear weapons on Earth in 2021 was 13,080. For comparison, during cold times, its number reached 70,000 units.

There were 13,000 nuclear warheads on Earth in 2021

The number of deployed ammunition, that is, ready for an instant strike, last year was 3825 units. About 90% of these warheads belong to Russia and the United States. But, according to experts, not all warheads will be involved in a nuclear strike. Some of them will destroy defense systems. Part simply will not be able to fly out of the launch silos, as they have been on combat duty for many years. True, the situation will worsen when hypersonic missiles appear, since they are still invulnerable to existing missile defense systems.

As for the destructive power of nuclear weapons, one megaton bomb creates a fireball over an area of ​​3-5 square kilometers that destroys all life. The shock wave demolishes buildings over an area of ​​155 square kilometers. It kills a large number of the population, but not 100%. You can get acquainted with the radius of destruction of bombs of any power on this site.

As a result of the explosion of a bomb with a capacity of one megaton, a fireball is created that burns out all life within a radius of several kilometers.

It should be borne in mind that not all nuclear warheads carried by various types of missiles have a yield of one megaton. More often it is 150-550 kilotons. By simple mathematical calculations, one can come to the conclusion that the existing nuclear weapons are not enough to destroy the entire population of even one large country, such as China, Russia or the United States. Obviously, large cities, infrastructure facilities, military installations, etc. will be destroyed.

How does an atomic bomb kill?

The main damaging factor in a nuclear explosion is the shock wave. It will cover a distance of 2 kilometers from the epicenter in about five seconds, and a distance of 3 kilometers in eight seconds.

Penetrating radiation is a stream of gamma rays and neutrons propagating from the luminous region of the explosion at the speed of light. This stream represents the maximum danger in the first five or six seconds.

The radius of destruction of penetrating radiation during explosions in the atmosphere is less than the radii of damage from light radiation and shock waves, since it is strongly absorbed by the atmosphere. Usually this value is 2-3 kilometers from the place of the explosion.

Radioactive contamination of the area is the result of fallout from a cloud of radioactive substances raised into the air. It begins some time after the explosion, the density of infection strongly depends on the speed and direction of the wind.

Light radiation is the most long-range damaging factor. The temperature of the glowing area reaches 5700-7700 degrees Celsius. The pulse can last several tens of seconds and cause severe burns, blindness, ignition of clothing or objects at a distance of up to ten kilometers, depending on the power of the charge.

The electromagnetic pulse as a result of a nuclear explosion does not have any effect on a person, however, it disables electrical and electronic equipment, disrupts radio communications.

The most powerful bomb in the world

The post-war period was marked by the confrontation between the bloc of the USSR and its allies with the USA and NATO. In the 1940s, the Americans seriously considered attacking the Soviet Union. To contain the former ally, it was necessary to speed up the work on creating a bomb, and already in 1949, on August 29, the US monopoly in nuclear weapons was over. During the arms race, two tests of nuclear warheads deserve the most attention.

Bikini Atoll, known primarily for frivolous swimsuits, in 1954 literally thundered all over the world in connection with tests of a nuclear charge of special power.

The Americans, having decided to test a new design of atomic weapons, did not calculate the charge. As a result, the explosion turned out to be 2.5 times more powerful than planned. Residents of nearby islands, as well as the ubiquitous Japanese fishermen, were under attack.

But it was not the most powerful American bomb. In 1960, the B41 nuclear bomb was put into service, which did not pass full-fledged tests because of its power. The strength of the charge was calculated theoretically, fearing to blow up such a dangerous weapon at the training ground.

The Soviet Union, which loved to be the first in everything, tested the Tsar bomb in 1961, nicknamed differently “Kuzkin’s mother.”

In response to America’s nuclear blackmail, Soviet scientists created the most powerful bomb in the world. Tested on Novaya Zemlya, it has left its mark in almost every corner of the globe. According to memoirs, a light earthquake was felt in the most remote corners at the time of the explosion.

nuclear weapons

The blast wave, of course, having lost all its destructive power, was able to go around the Earth. To date, this is the most powerful nuclear bomb in the world, created and tested by mankind. Of course, if his hands were untied, Kim Jong-un’s nuclear bomb would be more powerful, but he does not have New Earth to test it.

Where are nuclear weapons aimed?

In 2015, the SAC Atomic Weapons Requirements Study for 1959 was declassified, a study by the US Air Force Strategic Command on the need for nuclear weapons. The document contains a list of targets for destruction and aiming points for nuclear warheads. It can be assumed that some of the goals are still relevant.

In addition to military and industrial facilities, civilians are designated as targets.

The main targets are Moscow and St. Petersburg. Enthusiasts mapped about 1100 targets from this document.

You can check if you live near one of these destinations. It must be taken into account that the targets were assigned at a time when a nuclear charge could only be delivered by plane, so most of the targets are located close to the border. The modern map, thanks to new means of delivery, is probably free from target discrimination based on distance.

Nuclear Survival Instructions: Seconds, Minutes, Hours

In 1964-1967, a pair of American physicists, who had just graduated from high school, conducted the “Country N Experiment” and, according to information from open sources, created a workable project for a nuclear bomb in less than three years. Fortunately, most attackers are far from being as educated, and to go from design to finished product, you need at least gas centrifuges to produce uranium, which requires a large, dangerous and complex production.

However, the risk of seeing a nuclear explosion has not disappeared. Even a technical failure of the missile attack warning system could theoretically set off the mechanism of a big war without much desire from the rival sides, not to mention all the bellicose statements of politicians on both sides of the ocean. What to do if it still comes to nuclear explosions over the city?


The most “advanced” nuclear warhead that a resident of Russia may encounter is the American W88 with a capacity of 475 kt. The optimal height of its detonation in the event of an impact on cities is about 1840 m. First of all, a high-altitude flash will appear, the sound will come with a great delay. Seeing her, you should not hesitate. A third of the energy of the explosion reaches us as light and infrared radiation, the peak of its power is reached within a second after the explosion. However, the glow itself lasts more than five seconds, and if you rush into cover immediately, then most of the radiation will not hit you.

Light emission – a stream of light rays emanating from the area of ​​​​the fireball.
The impact of light radiation on a person and various objects, depending on their distance.

Urgent shelter (or at least the notorious “fold of the terrain”) should be chosen at a distance of no more than three steps, so as to get there in one throw. The best option is a ditch on the far side of the road from the explosion. In extreme cases, you can simply throw yourself on the ground face down, head from the explosion, putting your hands under the body. If there is a hood, pull it over your head right in the fall. In winter, you can turn up the collar or just pull the outerwear over your head.

To protect against light radiation, use protective structures and local objects that create a shadow. Protect exposed skin to avoid burns.

Once in the car, brake to a complete stop, put it on the handbrake, trying not to rise above the line of the windshield. By the way, do not forget to close the windows of the car. In an apartment or office, take cover under the nearest table below the window line, and in extreme cases, knock it down so that the tabletop protects from burns.

On an unprotected skin surface, W88 radiation is capable of causing continuous third-degree burns at a distance of up to 8.76 km from the epicenter. This is the most “long-range” damaging factor of atomic weapons in an air explosion, and also the most insidious: the rapid death of nerve cells dulls the sensation of pain. Without noticing the lesion, you can easily touch the burned part and further damage it.


If you hear a civil defense warning – and it will be 5-10 minutes ahead of nuclear explosions – everything should turn out noticeably better. You will either get to the shelter if you take care to find out where it is in advance, or run to the basement – this is, of course, if it is open in your house. At the very least, close the windows and have time to hide.

Half of the energy of an atomic explosion goes into the shock wave. If you are closer than 5 km to the explosion, most residential buildings will collapse at least partially. The wreckage of the house is the main danger in this option. Of the 340,000 inhabitants of Hiroshima, less than 80,000 died in the explosion, although almost 70% of the houses were destroyed. The reason for this is simple: a traditional Japanese home with a light timber frame and paper walls is nowhere near as dangerous. Concrete city “birdhouses” thus turn out to be a much less reliable refuge.

Radioactive contamination resulting from the fallout of radioactive substances from the cloud of a nuclear explosion.

The area is considered contaminated when the exposure dose rate is from 3.6 x 10−8 A/kg (0.5 R/h) and higher.

The basement in this respect is a completely reliable place. Hiroshima resident Eizo Nomura survived in the basement, being 170 meters from the epicenter of the explosion. He will also help from radiation: although Nomura had been ill with radiation sickness, he lived for many more decades and died at an advanced age. At the same time, people who remained on the surface and a kilometer from the explosion died from radiation sickness. It is possible that the entrance to the basement will fill up and you will have to wait for help for several days. Keep water ready, close windows and crevices so that less radioactive dust gets inside.

As the power of a nuclear warhead increases, the zone of continuous destruction grows rapidly, but the area affected by penetrating radiation expands much more slowly. Gamma-ray photons have an extremely short wavelength, so they are well absorbed by air. It is worth considering that the more powerful the ammunition, the higher the optimal height of its detonation above the city. In Hiroshima it was 600 m, for the W88 this figure is three times higher. Therefore, W88 will give a strong radiation damage (from 5 sieverts) in a radius of about 1.32 km, and the “Kid” in Hiroshima worked in a radius of 1.2 km. The difference is only slightly more than 10%, and in practice the proportion of deaths from radiation sickness will be even less than in 1945.

The fact is that in Hiroshima the radius of the zone of heavy destruction (> 0.14 MPa, destruction of 100% of buildings) was only 340 m, of medium destruction (> 0.034 MPa, destruction of more than half of the buildings) – only 1.67 km. But from W88 over Moscow, the radius of heavy damage will be 1.1 km, medium – 5.19 km. Hardly any residential building will survive in the zone of radiation damage (1.32 km). In this position, you are either in the basement, alive and protected from radiation, or already obviously dead. Let’s be honest, in a zone of severe destruction, radiation from W88 is only moderately dangerous for those who survived.


If a nuclear war starts, it will most certainly be after some kind of foreign policy aggravation. You have long suspected the worst and listened to the radio. This is still the most reliable method: SMS alerts across the country may not be enough. So, you heard the warning in 5-10 minutes. Let’s be honest: during the post-Soviet years, most shelters have degraded and ceased to be reliable shelters. So if minutes have passed after the explosion, and you are nearby, but still alive, then most likely you are in an ordinary basement. What’s next?

The best option is to do nothing for at least a day, and if there is water, then for several days. No fire will most likely threaten you. In Hiroshima, a real citywide fire raged with a fiery tornado, but it was caused by overturned houses made of wood and paper, ignited by imperfect electrical wiring and open hearths. Our damaged gas pipelines can cause explosions, fires – infrequently. Concrete walls, under the debris of which the bulk of combustible materials will be buried, will not allow the fiery tornado to disperse. Even in Nagasaki, a real citywide fire never happened.

The radius of destruction on the example of Moscow.

And yet, is there any point in sitting in the basement for days? There is, and a lot of it, especially if you happen to be in Moscow. After all, more warheads will hit the capital in the event of a global conflict than any other city on the planet. Moscow has key command and control centers protected by effective missile defenses. In order to be guaranteed to reach them, the enemy is forced to aim a lot of missiles, with a margin.

Moscow will be subjected to many strikes, and some of them will most likely be ground, in order to get deep-seated shelters for the military-political elite. The energy of such explosions is absorbed by the ground faster, making them much less destructive overall – in fact, they are used only to attack deep protected targets. However, ground explosions create a mass of dust that falls out as radioactive fallout – the famous “fallout”.

That is why it is worth sitting in the basement. The heaviest particles will fall quickly, and the dangerous isotopes they contain are mostly short-lived. Already after 7 hours, the dose in the affected area will drop tenfold, after 49 hours – 100 times, and after 14 days – a thousand. After 14 weeks, even in the former “red” zone, it will be possible to walk with almost no risk to life. So for the first few days it is better to stay in the basement, and if there is water and food, then it is worth staying for weeks. By this time, perhaps help will arrive in time.

What was destroyed?

Most of us, when we see a flash in the sky, are more likely to stare at it in surprise than to seek cover. The case itself conducted such mini-exercises, because it is almost impossible to visually distinguish a nuclear explosion from an asteroid explosion in the atmosphere. Such a fireball exploded over Chelyabinsk in 2013 and was accompanied by a lot of uncomprehending glances, and it is unlikely that anyone rushed to the ground during the flash. In the event of a nuclear war (or the fall of an asteroid slightly larger than Chelyabinsk), such gawkers will lose their sight, the sensitivity of their facial skin, and possibly the skin itself.

Time for optimism

Let’s add some more optimism. As theoretical models show, a significant part of the population will survive the first nuclear attacks on cities. Contrary to the stories about radioactive ash, it is estimated that in the US only 60% will survive. In Russia, due to the greater crowding of the population and high-rise buildings, the proportion of survivors will be slightly less, but still quite solid. But what about the end of the world, nuclear winter, famine and hordes of mutants?

Unfortunately, the analysis of urban folklore is not included in our tasks. Therefore, we simply note: a nuclear winter will not happen in practice. The hypothesis about it was based on the assumption of the formation of fiery whirlwinds over cities ignited by atomic strikes. With them, soot can reach the stratosphere, above the level of ordinary clouds, and remain there for years. However, today experts agree that such a scenario is unlikely for a modern metropolis, and even if individual fire tornadoes arise, their strength will not be enough to lift soot into the stratosphere. And from the troposphere, it will fall down with precipitation in a matter of weeks and will not be able to prevent sunlight from reaching the surface of the planet for a long time.

It is not worth waiting for universal hunger either: almost exclusively urban residents will die – that is, consumers, not food producers. The contamination of the fields will be moderate and local, because the blows will not be applied to the sparsely populated countryside. And there are quite a few long-lived isotopes after the explosion of an atomic bomb: the weight of the fissile material in the bomb is too small. Already next year, radiation in the fields will rarely remain a noticeable threat.

Existence after the start of World War III will be very difficult. But if you are not lucky enough to die after the first blow, easily and simply, then you will have to try to live on.

Types of damaging effects of radiation

Radiation destroys body tissues. The absorbed radiation dose is an energy quantity measured in rads (1 rad = 0.01 J/kg) for all types of penetrating radiation. Different types of radiation have different effects on the human body. Therefore, the exposure dose of X-ray and gamma radiation is measured in roentgens (1Р = 2.58×10–4 C/kg). The damage caused to human tissue by the absorption of radiation is estimated in units of the equivalent dose of radiation – rems (rem – the biological equivalent of a roentgen). To calculate the dose in roentgens, it is necessary to multiply the dose in rads by the so-called. the relative biological effectiveness of the considered type of penetrating radiation.

All people throughout their lives absorb some natural (background) penetrating radiation, and many – artificial, such as x-rays. The human body seems to be able to cope with this level of exposure. Harmful effects are observed when either the total accumulated dose is too large, or the exposure occurred in a short time. (However, the dose received as a result of uniform exposure over a longer period of time can also lead to severe consequences.)

As a rule, the received dose of radiation does not lead to immediate damage. Even lethal doses may have no effect for an hour or more. The expected results of irradiation (of the whole body) of a person with different doses of penetrating radiation are presented in Table. 2.

Table 2. Biological response of people to penetrating radiation

Nominal dose, radThe appearance of the first symptomsReduced combat capabilityHospitalization and follow-up
0–70Within 6 hours, mild cases of transient headache and nausea – up to 5% of the group in the upper part of the dose range.No.Hospitalization is not required. The functionality is maintained.
70–150Within 3-6 hours, a passing mild headache and nausea. Weak vomiting – up to 50% of the group.A slight decrease in the ability to perform their duties in 25% of the group. Up to 5% may be incompetent.Possible hospitalization (20-30 days) less than 5% in the upper part of the dose range. Return to duty, lethal outcomes are extremely unlikely.
150–450Within 3 hours headache, nausea and weakness. Mild diarrhea. Vomiting – up to 50% of the group.The ability to perform simple tasks is retained. The ability to perform combat and complex missions may be reduced. Over 5% incapacitated in the lower part of the dose range (more with increasing dose).Hospitalization (30–90 days) is indicated after a latent period of 10–30 days. Fatal outcomes (from 5% or less to 50% in the upper part of the dose range). At the highest doses, a return to duty is unlikely.
450–800Within 1 hour severe nausea and vomiting. Diarrhea, feverish condition in the upper part of the range.The ability to perform simple tasks is retained. A significant decrease in combat capability in the upper part of the range for a period of more than 24 hours.Hospitalization (90-120 days) for the whole group. The latent period is 7–20 days. 50% of deaths in the lower part of the range with an increase towards the upper limit. 100% deaths within 45 days.
800–3000Within 0.5–1 h, severe and prolonged vomiting and diarrhea, feverSignificant reduction in combat capability. At the top of the range, some have a period of temporary total incapacity.Hospitalization indicated for 100%. Latent period less than 7 days. 100% deaths within 14 days.
3000–8000Within 5 minutes severe and prolonged diarrhea and vomiting, fever and loss of strength. In the upper part of the dose range, convulsions are possible.Within 5 minutes, complete failure for 30-45 minutes. After that, partial recovery, but with functional disorders to death.Hospitalization for 100%, latent period 1–2 days. 100% deaths within 5 days.
> 8000Within 5 min. the same symptoms as above.Complete, irreversible failure. Within 5 minutes, loss of ability to perform tasks that require physical effort.Hospitalization for 100%. There is no latency period. 100% deaths after 15-48 hours.

“Attention everyone!”

When a real threat arises, the sirens (their work is regularly checked) will come to life. All the streets of the city will sound the signal “Attention everyone!”, Accompanied by sirens and intermittent beeps. Then we will be notified about a specific threat – they will say something about a nuclear missile attack, for example. Somewhere it is reported that at the same time they will say through the mouthpiece where to run and what to do in order to survive. Instructions will also be broadcast on radio and TV.

When you leave home, take at least your passport with you. The Ministry of Emergency Situations also recommends taking a military ID, documents on education and specialty, a work book and birth certificates of children.

If the mouthpieces worked, then, most likely, there are still 10 minutes left before the explosion. Well, or there will be no time at all, we don’t know. In any case, you must run. Where? In the metro, if you have it in the city (does not apply to residents of Omsk). Even better – in the bomb shelters, if by some miracle you were near them and you know where they are.

Deep cellars are also suitable as a refuge. If going underground is not an option, windowless rooms are also suitable for temporary shelter. Lock yourself up. So you protect yourself from penetrating radiation if the building is not blown away by a shock wave.

What to do if you didn’t hear the siren in time?

Everything happens in life. Here you go to the bus stop, but next to you they are already shooting and you are already pressing into the ground. There are not so few people in Russia who have experienced this for themselves (especially in the 90s of the last century). Just as suddenly, a nuclear strike can happen. Let’s say you were just walking, loud music was playing in your headphones, you were looking at the phone, and not around – and did not see how people around were running in different directions, trying to get to the basement or a normal shelter.

In this case, you will know about the explosion by a bright flash. Do not think that “nothing can be done anymore”: it is not so. Light in terrestrial conditions reaches us a hundred times faster than a shock wave. And even third-degree burns don’t happen instantly. Noticing the flash, you must immediately fall face down. And, if there is a hood or jacket, even in the fall, pull them over your head. In summer, you will have to cover your head with your hands or a bag, because being without a T-shirt on your body is also a bad idea. The faster you fall, the weaker the resulting burns will be: literally fractions of a second are important here.

But what about gamma radiation, won’t it finish off those who are not killed by the explosion? Oddly enough, no: unlike in the days of Hiroshima, today the victims of a nuclear war are almost not threatened by gamma radiation. To understand why, it’s worth taking a look at a map of a nuclear strike with a typical American warhead on Moscow:

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Unlike Hiroshima, there is simply no green spot of the zone, which is deadly by gamma radiation, on this map. This is because the optimal height to detonate such a warhead – based on the idea of ​​maximizing the number of victims – is more than two kilometers. And this is already so high that the air will have time to absorb the vast majority of gamma-ray photons and the lethal dose of gamma radiation will no longer reach the earth’s surface.

Yes, the United States has weaker nuclear warheads in service, they can be blown up at a lower altitude. But even in this case, the radius of the zone dangerous for gamma radiation (for people in open areas) will be less than the zone of guaranteed death of everyone who is outside basements and shelters. That is, if you have already survived a modern nuclear explosion, you have very little chance of dying from radiation sickness or other consequences of radiation.

Could the US military choose lower detonation heights to raise the death toll from gamma radiation? Theoretically yes. But one must understand that the number of victims of each nuclear weapon will decrease: too much of the energy of the explosion will be blocked by terrain and buildings. And the vast majority of the victims of the explosion are precisely those who died from the shock wave, and not at all from gamma photons.

By the way, for the same reason there will be no nuclear strikes on nuclear power plants: this is a very durable structure, the defeat of which is possible only when it is blown up near the surface. And such an explosion will reduce the number of victims of the bomb to a minimum – and no radioactive contamination from the destruction of the reactor will not even close this.

It is important to remember that lethal overpressure for the human body is higher than for most buildings and structures. Many buildings crumble already at 0.14 megapascals, which a person can tolerate quite well. That is, from the explosion next to you, a building can develop (even from the most durable materials), but you will not be killed, although shell shock is almost inevitable. Therefore, hiding in a building is not a good idea, digging out from under the bricks after being hit may not be so easy. It is much more reasonable to use terrain folds. For example, if you are on the road with a ditch, it is best to rush there. Finally, if the flash caught you driving, you need to slow down while bending down (it is advisable to keep your head below the window line).

How to find the nearest bomb shelter

A whole network of bomb shelters has been created in Russia, in large cities there may be several hundred of them. However, publishing this data online is prohibited, since information about the location of these objects is a state secret. There are lists and maps of bomb shelters online, but they may be inaccurate and out of date.

The surest way is to contact the local training and advisory centers for civil defense and emergency situations that are in each area. Usually they are located in district governments. Here, residents can be given a list of bomb shelters closest to their home, as well as instruct in case of an emergency. However, a complete list of protective structures will not be issued here.

In addition, bomb shelters are often found in state and security institutions, hospitals and shopping centers. When applying for a job, an employee undergoes a briefing, during which he is told about the nearest bomb shelter (if any).

Even if a resident of a settlement does not know the address of the nearest bomb shelter, in the event of an emergency, notification is carried out through all available channels: television, radio, SMS, external sound alerts. Thus, people will be directed to the nearest shelter.

What to do in the event of an explosion

A resident of a large city with a high degree of probability will face an air nuclear strike. Typically, the height of the charge detonation in this case is about 2 kilometers. The attack will begin with a high-altitude flash – an unbearably bright ball will silently light up in the sky.

Seeing him on the street, you can not hesitate – you should immediately close your eyes and quickly lie down on the ground face down and head towards the explosion. According to published recommendations by the World Health Organization, hands should be hidden under the torso.

If the flash is at a considerable distance, you can try to have time to find shelter – this has an average of three to four seconds. The best option is a ditch, a stone fence, a ditch, a large pit, an embankment at a distance of no more than two or three meters. Due to the likelihood of collapse, you should not look for protection behind the walls of buildings.

At the time of the explosion, a person can ride in a car – then you should immediately slow down and lie down on the seat below the line of the windshield face down. If the windows of the car are open, try to immediately close them from a lying position.

In an apartment or office, it is enough to jump out into the corridor and lie on the floor; if the room is large or the flash is too close, take cover under the nearest table.

It is worth remembering that the shock wave will destroy all window panes, fragments of which can kill or seriously injure a person.

How to survive a nuclear explosion in a shelter?

So, if you managed to survive a nuclear explosion and get to a safe place, your actions should be as follows:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a face mask or other material until the fallout cloud has passed. It is also necessary to turn off the ventilation systems and close the doors.
  • After the fallout cloud dissipates, doors and windows can be opened to provide some air circulation. Stay inside until the authorities say it’s safe to leave.
  • Listen to local radio or TV for information and advice. The authorities may order you to stay in a shelter or evacuate to a safer place away from the epicenter of the explosion.
  • If for some reason you need to leave the shelter, cover your mouth and nose with a damp towel.
  • Use stored food and drinking water. Do not eat local fresh produce or drink water from open water sources. Drink bottled water and eat food in sealed containers.
  • If you are injured, clean and treat open wounds on your body.

Listen to the world and get the keys to the cellars

The best way to survive a nuclear strike in a city is to meet him in a basement with a reinforced concrete floor. Eizo Nomura in Hiroshima survived just like that.

A nuclear explosion has three main mechanisms of destruction: a shock wave, a flash of visible and infrared radiation, and gamma radiation. The radius of the heavy damage zone from the shock wave for the 15-kiloton Hiroshima bomb was 340 meters, the diameter of the medium damage zone was 3.3 kilometers. Due to the explosion at a height of hundreds of meters, the zone of heavy destruction barely affected the city itself. But Nomura got into the zone of medium destruction. Despite this, he did not die: the basement ceiling protected him.

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Green shows the affected area of ​​gamma radiation. The circle slightly larger shows the radius of medium blast damage. The orange circle represents third-degree burns. The largest circle shows the area of ​​light blast damage (broken glass, etc.).

The type of ammunition should be chosen W88, and the type of detonation “airburst”.

The diameter of the “spot”, in which the level of radiation in Hiroshima was life-threatening, was 2.4 kilometers, but reinforced concrete effectively absorbs gamma photons, so here the basement protected the Japanese. And despite the fact that he ran out immediately after the explosion, the radiation threat practically did not affect him. A man could inhale a certain amount of radionuclides from the bomb itself, but an air nuclear explosion scatters them too far away so that something seriously threatens the health of the survivor directly at the site of the explosion – even immediately after it.

The flash of visible and infrared radiation from a nuclear explosion can be blinding if the eyes are open and looking in the direction of the explosion. Such an outbreak can cause third-degree burns. In the case of Hiroshima, the “spot” in which the nuclear explosion produced them had a diameter of 3.8 kilometers. But the basement protected Nomura.

Our ancestors 11,800 years ago, of course, did not have reinforced concrete cellars. But the power of air nuclear explosions from the debris of a comet in that era is estimated at about a thousand megatons. Interestingly, this is approximately equal to the TNT equivalent of the modern US nuclear arsenal.

Without cellars and other shelters, people made them themselves. Here is a description of these events in the legends of the Arawaks (but this topic is also among the mass of other peoples of the New World): “Go and dig a big hole, cover it with trees, and pile sand on top. After this is done, lock yourself in and burrow in for safety.”

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True, the legend mentions that it was specifically among the ancestors of the Arawaks that everything went along the edge: “Inside the pit, the earth shook so much that those gathered in it were afraid of collapse. Crowded in the middle of the pit, they could hear the roar and crackle of the fire as the forests all around were dying in huge fires. The air in the pit quickly became warmer, and it soon became difficult to breathe.”

From this it can be seen that it is possible to dig a shelter yourself, but the idea is so-so. It is better for a city dweller to find out in advance where the nearest bomb shelter is located. And if he’s not around, at least find the keys to the basement. Most of the rural population will not be subjected to a nuclear strike: there are too many cities in Russia (more than 1100). NATO does not have enough one warhead even for each of them (after all, there are still a lot of military targets).

The shelter will not save those who do not fall into it. So listen to the civil defense sirens. Usually, a nuclear missile attack becomes known in half an hour. True, if the strike was carried out by medium-range missiles that are close to you, then the time may be five minutes. In any case, it is worth hurrying to the nearest known shelter, but if you are not a runner, do not rush headlong. Falling down and breaking your leg at that moment is the last thing you want.

If the alarm caught you near the subway, it is best to hide there. We see anti-nuclear doors at many stations every day – we just don’t think about what exactly is in front of us.

How to escape from a nuclear explosion on the street?

According to the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO), if you are near an explosion, the first thing to do is close your eyes so as not to damage your eyesight. Then you need to lie on the ground, putting your hands under the body. In this position, it is necessary to remain motionless until two shock waves pass.

If an explosion catches you outside, find something to cover your nose and mouth with, such as a scarf or handkerchief. To remove radioactive fallout from clothing, always cover your face.

Nuclear war would release 150 million metric tons of soot into the upper atmosphere

Choosing a shelter, which can be a basement or any underground room, follows from the following considerations: the shelter is located away from the direction in which the wind blows. After you get to the shelter, take off your clothes – they may be dirty. If the situation allows you to take a shower and change clothes – do this before entering the shelter.

And yet, at what distance can you survive?

It is believed that at a distance of 32 kilometers you have a chance to survive WITHOUT shelter. However, if you can take cover in a concrete room without windows, the chances of survival increase even at closer distances. For example, Eizo Nomura, a resident of Hiroshima, survived by hiding in a basement that was only 170 meters from the epicenter of a nuclear explosion. You can find out what to do in the event of an explosion, and where to hide, in our detailed material.

How to save yourself from radiation

To prevent or reduce the effect of radioactive substances on the body, it is recommended:

  • 1. go outside in a respirator, raincoat, rubber boots and gloves;
  • 2. exclude bathing, smoking, picking berries and mushrooms;
  • 3. Thoroughly clean shoes and clothes before entering the premises;
  • 4. moisten the area near the house and carry out daily wet cleaning using detergents.

Since fallout is the worst consequence of an explosion, authorities may recommend the use of potassium iodide (KI), which blocks the absorption of radioactive radiation by the thyroid gland.

Important: KI (potassium iodide) only protects the thyroid gland, not other parts of the body.

A nuclear wave can destroy all life on earth.

A tablet of potassium iodide in the first aid kit will save you from thyroid cancer in the event of an accident or explosion. Table salt and iodine-rich foods do not contain enough iodine to prevent radiation from reaching the thyroid gland. Do not use table salt or food as a substitute for KI!

Iodine prophylaxis is aimed at protecting the thyroid gland from the negative effects of radioactive isotopes of iodine. Self-consumption of potassium iodide is possible after the radioactive substances released by a nuclear explosion become known.

A single dose of KI protects the thyroid gland for 24 hours. To protect it, as a rule, a single dose in the prescribed sizes is quite enough. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. And remember – it’s better to be prepared for disaster – but you need to hope for the best.

Climatic consequences of a nuclear explosion

Not so long ago, scientists from the US National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado simulated a nuclear war – the consequences of a full-fledged nuclear strike between the US and Russia, which will involve the entire nuclear potential of both countries, will be felt for at least ten years. They told about this in their study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

As a result of fires that occur after nuclear explosions, about 150 million tons of soot will rise into the atmosphere. Within a few weeks, wind-blown aerosols will envelop the entire globe. As sunlight is hidden behind dense clouds, the average temperature on Earth will drop by 9°C, in other words, a nuclear winter will begin.

Nuclear winter will cover the Earth for at least seven years.

The only exceptions will be the Arctic and northern Eurasia. The north polar vortex here will intensify in the first year after the war, causing temperatures to rise but remain below the freezing point of water. Also, the consequences of nuclear strikes will lead to the disappearance of the rainy season, there will be a significant variability in the El Niño cycle.

It will take at least 7 years for the soot to dissipate. However, it will take at least three more years for normal levels of sunlight to return to pre-war levels. During this time, many animals and plants can die, since after 200 days of nuclear winter, the so-called “point of no return” begins. We talked about this in more detail in an article about a nuclear winter caused by the fall of an asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs.

I must say that in 2007, employees of the NASA Space Research Institute tried to find out what would happen in the event of a nuclear war. The results were similar, but the latest study turned out to be more accurate and showed a more serious decrease in the average temperature on the planet.

Did you know that rockets existed in Russia 200 years ago?

Environmental consequences of a nuclear explosion

Radiation is another deadly consequence of nuclear war. However, like kinetic destruction, it will also not affect the entire planet. The first weeks after the war will be the most dangerous. The fact is that there is a relationship between the duration of the half-life and the energy released by radionuclides, that is, the power of radioactive radiation. The shorter the half-life, the greater the release of energy, and vice versa.

Radioactive contamination quickly weakens and ceases to be dangerous after a few weeks.

After the explosion of modern weapons, according to experts, the fallout kills quickly. However, after a few weeks, the level of radiation even in the impact zone ceases to be lethal. During this time, the most dangerous isotopes will decay. Of course, there will be those with a half-life of hundreds of years, but their radiation is negligible. The only thing is that it will lead to contamination of the soil and water bodies.

Immediately after the impact, the fallout will carry radiation dust for hundreds of kilometers, but will not reach remote regions. In addition, it should be borne in mind that they will be uneven. Therefore, zones with strong radiation will appear on Earth, as well as those that radiation will not touch at all.

Thus, the most global threat remains the threat of nuclear winter. In addition, it should be borne in mind that a nuclear war will entail economic collapse and famine. Therefore, despite the fact that it will not kill all of humanity, its consequences will be terrifying for the entire globe.

So what will happen in the event of a nuclear war, we now know. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Another question immediately arises – what to do during a nuclear strike? But this is a separate topic for conversation, which was detailed in this post.

After the explosion: when to go upstairs?

Modern nuclear weapons, as noted above, carry a moderate radiation hazard. Therefore, in principle, you can act like Eizo Nomura and leave the basement right away. Actually, it’s much safer for you than for him: the Hiroshima bomb was very weak. Therefore, it was blown up close to the surface, that is, radiation pollution near the epicenter of the explosion was much more dangerous than from modern nuclear weapons.

However, this is a theory. In practice, if you find yourself in a bomb shelter or subway, you have to wait for the decision of the civil defense system and the Ministry of Emergency Situations. This is the smartest way: they have access to emergency supplies of food and drinking water. If you leave the shelter, you will lose access to them.

What if you are in a private basement because you didn’t have time to get to the shelter? Finding the nearest bomb shelter can be counterproductive: it won’t open for a while. The fact is that radioactive contamination after the explosion decreases according to the 7/10 principle – a week after the explosion it is ten times weaker than at the end of the first day. Civil Defense might not want to expose people to even the moderate radiation risk that Nomura exposed himself. Then the doors of the shelters will be opened in a week, or even later.

The decision is best made according to the circumstances. If your basement is burning with rubble or a strong smell of gas, it makes sense to consider moving. In other cases, everything depends on the availability of food and water in the basement.

If the explosion caught you outside the city, there is frankly no point in rushing to the metropolis at least in the first week. It is better to close windows and doors tightly for a week, to stick to the food and water that you stocked up before the nuclear strike or in the first tens of minutes after it. Using rainwater in the first weeks is a bad idea. As well as open windows or drinking water, except that it was stocked in advance.

What is the point in all this, anyway, the nuclear winter will destroy everyone?

Neither the US nor Russia can provide more than a thousand warheads for strikes on cities. This means that even in our country, the majority of the urban population will survive nuclear strikes – and the same, as American scientists have already calculated, applies to the United States. A significant part of industry, and especially agriculture, too. Extinction from starvation will not threaten, because in such a case the state stores large (for several years of economical spending) stocks of canned food and cereals. Of course, this is not a peaceful, well-fed life at all, but this is not even close to the “inevitable death of everyone and everything” from standard films about atomic war.

There is even less to worry about nuclear winter – a sharp drop in the temperature of the planet after the exchange of nuclear strikes. From a scientific point of view, this hypothesis has long and reliably discredited itself.

Recall that the nuclear winter hypothesis was not invented by scientists. She appeared in a science fiction story by Poul Anderson in 1947 – but with all due respect to this good writer, he was writing about a hypothetical future. With an unknown, but incredibly large (always so in science fiction) nuclear arsenal.

Is this possible in the real world? If the world powers massively had munitions of 10 gigaton each, which American scientists once tried to create, and if there were a thousand of such ammunition (a total of ten million megatons), then yes, there would be a certain possibility of lowering temperatures on the planet. True, only if all these explosions were not airborne, but ground-based, at a height of zero meters. In this case, the amount of dust lifted into the stratosphere would be large enough to cause a severe drop in temperatures – a nuclear winter.

But in reality, the entire deployed nuclear arsenal of the United States and Russia amounts to a few thousand megatons. And its main part is intended for air blasting. And it prevents a large amount of dust from entering the atmosphere.

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It is because of these technical factors that no one in science even considered the nuclear winter hypothesis seriously until the 1980s. Then some researchers suggested that if not the explosions themselves, then the fires following them – from burning forests and cities – could carry a lot of ash into the stratosphere. This could cool the planet for years, turning summer into winter and winter into winter in Siberia.

But such ideas were most convincingly refuted by practice in 1991, when Saddam Hussein set fire to many Kuwaiti oil wells at once, and in a very hot region. And the hotter, the higher the ash is carried upwards – and the more likely the effect of a hypothetical “nuclear winter”. It is not surprising that the proponents of this hypothesis explicitly stated at the time in Nature: Hussein would reduce the average global temperatures by 5-10 degrees. It sounds innocent, but in reality such a fall is equivalent to transferring, for example, Moscow to the climate of Arkhangelsk. That is, the global collapse of agriculture and hunger.

But this prediction did not come true: the soot from even very large and prolonged oil fires did not rise above six kilometers. From there, it was quickly washed out by precipitation, and no drop in temperature occurred. After all, it would be possible only with the removal of particles into the stratosphere, from where it does not rain and dust is deposited only “dry”, that is, very slowly.

“This is an absolutely disgustingly done scientific study, but I believe that it is impossible to correct the situation publicly … Who wants to be declared a supporter of atomic war?”

Like many other incorrect hypotheses, nuclear winter still has its fans in the scientific community. But, perhaps, this can no longer be called the scientific mainstream (in 1991 it turned out that their model does not work in practice).

It is also worth noting that a nuclear winter of the predicted magnitude should have caused major extinctions. Meanwhile, even 11,800 years ago, when 10 million square kilometers of land burned out, no major species extinction occurred. It was not even 790 thousand years ago, when an explosion of a million megatons thundered over the planet. All this means that a really serious “nuclear winter” requires explosions of a completely different power.

For example, one hundred million megatons. This is exactly what happened 66 million years ago and killed all dinosaurs with teeth (toothless – birds, survived and are still alive). Then it became really cold, and for years.

But it was not an air, but a ground explosion. And, undoubtedly, the nuclear arsenals of the Earth today do not reach even one ten-thousandth of that explosion. Therefore, nuclear winter is just a terrible idea from the story of a good science fiction writer. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with real life.

Top 3 most dangerous incidents with nuclear missiles and bombs

1. British Columbia, 1950

On February 14, 1950, a Convair B-36 bomber of the US Air Force took off with the task of delivering a mock nuclear strike on the Soviet Union. This was the very beginning of the Cold War, and intercontinental ballistic missiles did not yet exist – charges could only be delivered to enemy territory by aircraft. It was possible to fly to the USSR only through the Arctic with its cold weather, which complicated the task. During these exercises, the US military was just trying to test how feasible such a strike would be.

After taking off from Eielson Air Force Base, the B-36 was supposed to fly off the coast of Alaska and British Columbia, then over the states of Washington and Montana, climb to a height of 12,000 meters and simulate bombing over San Francisco. At the end of the mission, the bomber was supposed to head for Fort Worth, Texas, and land there. The flight was supposed to last 24 hours, and for greater realism, the Mark IV atomic bomb was loaded onto the B-36, which, however, contained only uranium and 2.3 tons of conventional explosives. There was no plutonium core, a mandatory element for a nuclear explosion.

The extreme cold at Eielson AFB caused technical difficulties at a very early stage. After examination and inspection, the bomber was nevertheless cleared to fly, but after seven hours of flight, the crew noticed a fire in three of the aircraft’s six engines. Naturally, they were silenced, and the B-36 continued flying on the remaining three. Their power, in the end, was not enough, and the plane began to lose altitude. The crew decided to leave the bomber, as they understood that such a flight could not last long.

Nobody wanted to swim in the cold waters of the North Pacific Ocean, so the commander sent the bomber deep into the continent. The atomic bomb was dropped somewhere over the Inner Passage in British Columbia, Canada, and exploded in the air. Due to the lack of a plutonium core, the explosion did not turn out to be nuclear, but radioactive contamination of the area, albeit not too serious, occurred. Fortunately, this is an almost deserted area, and there were no reports of casualties as a result of that incident.

2. North Dakota, 2007

Any operation with nuclear weapons requires the most serious security measures. Each of them, even the simplest, is regulated by voluminous manuals, numbering tens and hundreds of pages. However, in 2007, six nuclear cruise missiles disappeared without a trace from their storage site and ended up on the other side of the United States.

On August 29, 2007, at 8:00 am, Minot Air Force Base personnel prepared twelve AGM-129 cruise missiles for transport to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. This was the sixth of twelve flights, each of which had to transfer 12 cruise missiles with dummy warheads to storage. During the preparation of weapons for subsequent installation on the B-52 bomber, this group of servicemen for some reason decided to use not the standard electronic missile identification system, but their own senses, as a result of which the place of six of the twelve dummies was taken by variable nuclear warheads ready for combat use. power “W80-1”. How could this happen? Laziness, excessive self-confidence, the desire to do the job faster …

However, it could still be corrected during the last, control inspection. And this group had already begun to conduct it when the personnel responsible for installing missiles directly on the bomber arrived. A little earlier than expected. Disregarding their duties for the second time, the missile assemblers allowed the incompletely tested cruise missiles to be taken, and they took their places on the external pylons of the bomber at approximately 09:25 local time. For the next 23 hours, the nuclear weapons were left without close guard at the Minot Air Base parking lot.

The next morning the bomber was approached by one of its pilots. He carefully examined the six rockets suspended from the right wing. Here, as expected, there were training warheads. Deciding that everything was in order and on the opposite side, he signed a protocol on readiness for flight. Another arrogance, and nuclear warheads went unnoticed for the third time.

The B-52 took off and landed a few hours later at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. He took a place in one of the distant parking lots, where he remained without direct protection for another nine hours. In the evening, a group arrived at the bomber, which was supposed to remove the missiles. One of the servicemen immediately noticed something was wrong, and immediately contacted his superiors. The inspector who arrived confirmed that these were live warheads, and the entire chain of command became aware of the incident.

You need to know that even with the routine movement of nuclear weapons from a bomber to bunker storage, the rules require a security detachment consisting of at least 60 well-armed security officers. These are several firing groups, four heavy escort vehicles, a preliminary reconnaissance inspection of the route. If at least one warhead is suspended from a bomber, it must be guarded by 15 troops of the Rapid Response Team, capable of arriving on the spot no more than five minutes after being called. In the immediate vicinity of the aircraft, in this case, there are two stationary posts with 2 guards each, and another mobile patrol is constantly moving around the perimeter.

3. Spain, 1966

In 1966, intercontinental ballistic missiles were still far from the most reliable means of delivering nuclear weapons, so the main role here was still assigned to long-range bombers. The US Air Force Strategic Command (SAC) was responsible for ensuring that, if necessary, arrange a nuclear Armageddon on the territory of the USSR, and maintained its combat readiness through regular exercises.

On January 17, 1966, a B-52 took off from Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. Its mission was to simulate a nuclear attack against the Soviet Union and its allies. He was supposed to fly over the Atlantic, reach the Mediterranean Sea, and from the Italian coast to head east, to the borders of the USSR. Having not reached them for about a hundred kilometers, the bomber had to turn around and lie down on the opposite course. With the world on the brink of war, the B-52 carried four B28RI hydrogen bombs that could be quickly brought to combat. According to the plan, the bomber had to spend more than a day in the air and make two refueling.

Refueling in the air is still quite a risky undertaking, requiring very precise coordination between both participants in the interaction. At 10:30 a.m., at an altitude of 9450 meters, the B-52 collided with a KC-135 refueling aircraft taking off from the Morón airbase in Spain. The planes met in good weather off the Spanish coast. The bomber was approaching the tanker too fast, and the KC-135’s refueling boom operator had to instruct the B-52 pilots to turn away and repeat the rendezvous. For some reason, he did not, so the latter, without suspecting anything, began to slow down.

However, the rendezvous was still too fast, causing the boom throat to crash hard into the B-52’s fuselage, penetrating the main spar and breaking off the left wing. An explosion followed, leading to the destruction of both aircraft. Only four of the eleven people who were in them managed to escape. Four hydrogen bombs broke away from the tumbling bomber and flew down. Three of them fell into the fields near the fishing village of Palomares. Two bombs detonated, but the safety systems prevented a nuclear explosion. However, radioactive materials were scattered over a large area. A third bomb was found relatively unscathed in a dry river bed. The fourth ended up in the Mediterranean Sea and was recovered after a long search and a large-scale naval operation.

In order to clean up the area from radioactive materials, the US government had to buy the contaminated fields from the peasants. Subsequently, in order to convince the concerned public that there was no pollution left, the Minister of Tourism of Spain and the US Ambassador staged public bathing, first on the beach, located 15 kilometers from the crash site, and then in its immediate vicinity. However, the effects of that accident continue to be felt in the area today.

Nuclear powers of the world for 2022, list of countries with nuclear weapons

The list of nuclear powers in the world for 2022 includes ten major states. Information on which countries have nuclear potential and in what units it is quantified is based on data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and Business Insider.

Nine countries that are officially owners of WMD form the so-called “Nuclear Club”.

10. Iran

Number of nuclear warheads: no data.
First test: no data.
Last test: no data.

To date, it is officially known which countries have nuclear weapons. And Iran is not one of them. However, he did not curtail work on the nuclear program, and there are persistent rumors that this country has its own nuclear weapons. The Iranian authorities say that they can build it for themselves, but for ideological reasons they are limited only to the use of uranium for peaceful purposes.

So far, Iran’s use of the atom has been under the control of the IAEA as a result of the 2015 agreement, but the status quo may soon change.

Since January 6, 2020, Iran has waived the latest restrictions on the nuclear deal to build a nuclear weapon for a possible strike against the US.

9. North Korea

Number of nuclear warheads: 10-60
First test: 2006
Last test: 2018

In the list of countries with nuclear weapons in 2022, to the great horror of the Western world, the DPRK has entered. Flirting with the atom in North Korea began in the middle of the last century, when, frightened by the US plans to bomb Pyongyang, Kim Il Sung turned to the USSR and China for help. The development of nuclear weapons began in the 1970s, froze as the political situation improved in the 1990s, and naturally continued when it worsened. Already since 2004, nuclear tests have been taking place in the “mighty prosperous power”. Of course, as the Korean military assures, for purely harmless purposes – for the purpose of space exploration.

Adding to the tension is the fact that the exact number of North Korean nuclear warheads is unknown. According to some data, their number does not exceed 20, according to others it reaches 60 units.

8 Israel

Number of nuclear warheads: 80
First test: 1979
Last test: 1979

Israel has never said it has nuclear weapons, but it has never claimed otherwise either. The piquancy of the situation is given by the fact that Israel refused to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Along with this, the “Promised Land” vigilantly monitors the peaceful and not so peaceful atom of its neighbors and, if necessary, does not hesitate to bomb the nuclear centers of other countries – as was the case with Iraq in 1981. Israel has been rumored to have had the potential to build a nuclear bomb since 1979, when flashes of light suspiciously similar to nuclear explosions were recorded in the South Atlantic. It is assumed that either Israel, or South Africa, or both of these states together are responsible for this test.

7. India

Number of nuclear warheads: 120-130
First test: 1974
Last test: 1998

Despite the successfully detonated nuclear charge back in 1974, India officially recognized itself as a nuclear power only at the end of the last century. True, having blown up three nuclear devices in May 1998, two days after that, India announced its refusal to further tests.

6. Pakistan

Number of nuclear warheads: 130-140
First test: 1998
Last test: 1998

It is no wonder that India and Pakistan, which have a common border and are in a state of permanent hostility, seek to overtake and overtake their neighbor – including the nuclear area. After the 1974 Indian bombing, it was only a matter of time before Islamabad developed its own. As the then Prime Minister of Pakistan stated: “If India develops its own nuclear weapons, we will make ours, even if we have to eat grass.” And they did it, however, with a twenty-year delay.

After India conducted tests in 1998, Pakistan promptly conducted its own by detonating several nuclear bombs at the Chagai test site.

5. UK

Number of nuclear warheads: 215
First test: 1952
Last test: 1991

The UK is the only country in the nuclear five that has not conducted tests on its territory. The British preferred to do all nuclear explosions in Australia and the Pacific Ocean, but since 1991 it was decided to stop them. True, in 2015, David Cameron lit up, admitting that England, if necessary, is ready to drop a couple of bombs. But he didn’t say who exactly.

4. China

Number of nuclear warheads: 270
First test: 1964
Last test: 1996

China is the only country that has committed itself not to launch (or threaten to launch) nuclear strikes against non-nuclear states. And in early 2011, China announced that it would maintain its weapons only at a minimum sufficient level. However, China’s defense industry has since invented four types of new ballistic missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. So the question of the exact quantitative expression of this “minimum level” remains open.

3. France

Number of nuclear warheads: 300
First test: 1960
Last test: 1995

In total, France conducted more than two hundred nuclear weapons tests, ranging from an explosion in the then French colony of Algiers to two atolls in French Polynesia.

Interestingly, France has consistently refused to take part in the peace initiatives of other nuclear countries. It did not join the moratorium on nuclear testing in the late 1950s, did not sign the nuclear test ban treaty in the 1960s, and joined the Nonproliferation Treaty only in the early 1990s.

2. US

Number of nuclear warheads: 6,800
First test: 1945
Combat use: 1945 (Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan)
Last test: 1992

The country with the most powerful military in the world is also the first power to carry out a nuclear explosion, and the first and only one to date to use nuclear weapons in a combat situation. Since then, the United States has produced 66,500 nuclear weapons of more than 100 different modifications. The main array of US nuclear weapons are submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Interestingly, the United States (like Russia) refused to participate in the negotiations that began in the spring of 2017 on the complete renunciation of nuclear weapons.

US military doctrine says that America reserves enough weapons to guarantee both its own security and the security of its allies. In addition, the United States promised not to strike at non-nuclear states if they comply with the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

1. Russia

Number of nuclear warheads: 7,000
First test: 1949
Last test: 1990

No. 1 nuclear power in the world in 2022. Part of the weapons was inherited by Russia after the demise of the USSR – the existing nuclear warheads were removed from the military bases of the former Soviet republics. According to the Russian military, they may decide to use nuclear weapons in response to similar actions. Or in the case of strikes with conventional weapons, as a result of which the very existence of Russia will be in jeopardy.

On February 19, 2022, Russia conducted a large-scale exercise of the strategic deterrence nuclear forces with launches of cruise and ballistic missiles.

Ukrainian nuclear program

At the Munich Conference 2022, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that the country could reconsider the renunciation of nuclear weapons provided for in the Budapest Memorandum. Thus, it can be assumed that Ukraine in the near future may begin to develop nuclear weapons on its territory. Certain developments for this have remained in the country since the days of the Soviet Union.

“Of course, there is a certain reserve in Ukraine, and there are nuclear physicists. They still have 15 power units operating, and quite a few nuclear power plants. In addition, there is spent nuclear fuel, nuclear waste, so you can make a “dirty” bomb. The question is how much it will be a full-fledged atomic bomb. Plus, we need delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons, ”said analyst Yushkov in an interview with Sputnik in Russian radio.

Nuclear arms control

The beginning of control over nuclear weapons in the world began almost immediately after the first developments. However, for a long time the countries could not come to an agreement. It wasn’t until 1963 that the first agreement was signed limiting the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, in space and under water. Further, in 1968, the following treaty was signed, which since 1970 has limited the spread of nuclear weapons in the world. Despite the agreements ratified and signed by most countries of the world. Some countries have not yet signed the 1968 treaty – Israel, India, Pakistan and South Sudan.

Some countries are also periodically accused of building nuclear weapons and developing nuclear programs. Among them, the greatest suspicions fall on Iran, which, despite the signing of the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, according to some experts, is secretly developing a nuclear program. In addition, according to the latest data, at the beginning of 2020, after the conflict between Iran and the United States, Iran announced its withdrawal from the FDP treaty (a political agreement between Iran and the Group of 5 to limit the development of Iran’s nuclear program).

8 Frightening Facts About Russia’s Nuclear Arsenal

Albert Einstein once said: “I don’t know what kind of weapons the Third World War will be fought with, but the Fourth will use stones!” And looking at the current situation in the world, you begin to believe in it more and more. Here are some facts about the Russian nuclear arsenal that prove that humanity definitely does not need a nuclear war.

Russia has the largest number of nuclear warheads in the world

At the moment, according to the assessments of groups of international experts, which were made on the basis of reports in the framework of the START III data exchange, Russia has 508 deployed strategic launchers. In total, these carriers carry 1,796 nuclear warheads. The closest competitor, the United States, has 1367 warheads on 681 carriers. At the same time, it is worth clarifying that, according to the same START III treaty, each deployed strategic bomber is counted as one nuclear warhead. But how many nuclear bombs and missiles it carries on itself is not taken into account.

In fact, there are much more nuclear blocks

The current number of active, deployed nuclear warheads is regulated by the START III treaty, according to which each country should have no more than 1,500 of them. Both the United States and Russia are close to this indicator. Nevertheless, in addition to nuclear units on combat duty, there are also reserve, non-deployed warheads, including those that are in long-term storage. According to the agreement, they should be destroyed, but no one is in a hurry to do this. According to various estimates, Russia may have about 6,800 such “mothballed” warheads, and about 7,600 in the United States.

Compared to the weapons of the USSR, this is still crumbs

It may seem that 1500 warheads is a lot. And it really is. But the fact is that there were much more nuclear weapons in the USSR. And not just a lot, but many times more. The Soviet Union reached its maximum number of warheads in 1975, when there were 46,000 of them in service. For comparison: in the United States in 1967 there were a maximum of 31,000 warheads.

The armament of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces is the most technologically advanced in the world

The basis of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces is still made up of Soviet-style missiles “Voevoda”, and “Topol”, as well as the later “Topol-M”, which was put into service in 1997. However, at the moment, more than 70 RS-24 Yars missiles of the 2009 model are already on combat duty. While the same States are armed with only one type of ICBM – LGM-30G Minuteman-3, the last of which was produced in 1978. That is, their “youngest” rocket is now 38 years old.

Russian nuclear missiles do not care where to fly

Modern technologies have made it possible to significantly increase the maximum flight range of intercontinental nuclear missiles. Here, for example, is the most modern heavy liquid-fuel ICBM RS-28 “Sarmat”, which is now only being tested and will enter service in 2018. This missile is designed to replace the R-36M2 Voyevoda, which has already served well. The new rocket will fly not in a circular orbit, as usual, but in a suborbital trajectory. Taking into account the maximum range for which the Sarmat is designed, this means that it is possible to launch a rocket from anywhere in the world, even from the South Pole.

Only one Voevoda missile is capable of hitting the entire United States at once

The R-36M2 “Voevoda” missile system is capable of carrying 10 separate warheads, each with a capacity of up to 750 kilotons. The total cast weight is 8800 kg. This is a huge number. But something else is much more interesting: the warhead breeding radius of Voevoda is 3,000 kilometers. That is, provided that each warhead reaches the target, almost the entire territory of the United States is blocked. And that’s just one missile. In total, 46 such complexes are currently in service.

Less than 1% of the world’s nuclear arsenal is needed to arrange a nuclear winter on the entire planet

Experts have calculated that in order to cause an unprecedented climatic effect comparable to the Little Ice Age, it is enough for each of the two warring parties to detonate only about 50 charges. At the moment, 50 charges, comparable in power to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, is only 0.3% of the total world nuclear arsenal. And there is no doubt that if a nuclear war suddenly starts, then much more than 50 charges will be blown up.

Russian military doctrine does not exclude the combat use of nuclear weapons

According to the new version of this document, Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons not only in response to a similar act of aggression by another state. Nuclear missiles can also fly if Russia or its allies are threatened by other types of weapons of mass destruction. And also in the case of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons, but if the very existence of the state is threatened.


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