What a Nuclear War Would Mean.

AuthorFleck, Martin

A nuclear attack on any city would be a humanitarian catastrophe. Modern nuclear weapons are fundamentally different from any other weapons in history, and just one of them could potentially wipe out an entire metropolis. The heat and blast effects from a modern weapon would indiscriminately kill tens of thousands to millions of civilians depending on the city's density and the explosive power of the warhead.

A Physicians for Social Responsibility study modeled the humanitarian impact of detonating 300 Russian nuclear weapons over U.S. cities. The study found 75 to 100 million people would die within thirty minutes.

The so-called national defense policies of the nine nations with nuclear weapons include the ever-present threat of using them to burn to death millions of civilians who live in other nations. But since no one can actually win a nuclear war, the entire idea of achieving "security" through nuclear weapons is a false narrative. That's why three-quarters of the nations on Earth have called for totally eliminating them. The Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons, submitted to the United Nations General Assembly in 2014 and signed by 155 UN. countries, puts it plainly: "The only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination."

These are among the effects we could expect if a nuclear war were to happen:

BLAST: A typical modern nuclear weapon can easily reduce the entire downtown of a city to rubble. Hiroshima was flattened by an American bomb with a "yield" equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT. Modern thermonuclear weapons are many times more powerful. Current American and Russian land-based missiles carry warheads ranging from 100 to 800 kilotons. That's six to fifty-three times the size of the Hiroshima bomb.

BURNS: In Hiroshima, temperatures at ground zero were equivalent to the surface of the sun. If a modern weapon is detonated over a city, it will burn everything flammable in an area at least four miles across. The Hiroshima bomb immediately killed 70,000 people, mostly from burns. By the end of 1945, that death toll had doubled. "Each person who died had a name. Each person was loved by someone," said survivor Setsuko Thurlow in a 2017 International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons address to the U.N...

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