US handed new nuclear threat over missile handout to Ukraine
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Russia’s Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned of escalating the war in Ukraine by using nuclear weapons, stoking fears that the conflict could turn into a worldwide conflict. But given the last nuclear attack took place almost 100 years ago in Japan, it’s difficult to imagine the level of destruction and suffering a nuclear attack could unleash.
What would a nuclear attack be like?
Russia possesses an estimated 5,977 nuclear warheads, the largest stockpile of nuclear warheads in the world.
Given that nuclear warheads, particularly the most intensely powerful ones, are a closely guarded secret with details only known by those in the top tiers of the Kremlin, exactly what sort of nuclear bomb could ever be used and its power is difficult to predict.
The most powerful nuclear bomb ever created and tested was the Tsar Bomba, which was developed by the Soviet Union under Igor Kurchatov.
According to nuclear bomb simulator Outrider.org, if the Tsar Bomba was used on some of the most populated places in the world, it would lead to millions of immediate deaths.
If a Tsar Bomba was used on Buckingham Palace, it would result in 4.6 million deaths, and an additional three million injuries.
The radius of the fireball, which would burn 10,000 times hotter than the sun, would reach 43.75 miles around the explosion site, destroying almost all of the capital.
If the Tsar Bomba was dropped on the US capital city of Washington, directly on the White House, it would result in 1.8 million immediate fatalities.
If a similar bomb was dropped on Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital which is currently enjoying a return to somewhat normal life after Russian troops withdrew from the area, it would result in 2.1 million immediate deaths and more than 400,000 injuries.
In the west, the most deadly place for a nuclear bomb to be dropped would be New York.
If the Tsar Bomba or similar was dropped in New York, it would result in six million instant deaths, with the shock wave, radiation and heat causing 3.9 million injuries as an estimate.
A bomb with the capabilities of the Tsar Bomba would send a shockwave 345 square miles outward from the epicentre, and the heat would be felt 3,200 square miles away.
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Would Russia use a nuclear bomb?
Intelligence chiefs and experts are divided on whether Russia would actually launch nuclear attacks on Ukraine or elsewhere in Europe.
Earlier this month, US director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, told the Senate armed services committee that President Putin would continue to brandish Russia’s nuclear arsenal in an attempt to deter the US and its allies from continuing to support Ukraine.
But she said it would be unlikely President Putin would authorise such an attack, unless Russia’s territory or existence was threatened.
She said: “We do think that [Putin’s perception of an existential threat] could be the case in the event that he perceives that he is losing the war in Ukraine, and that Nato in effect is either intervening or about to intervene in that context, which would obviously contribute to a perception that he is about to lose the war in Ukraine.”
She added that the world would probably have some warning that nuclear use was imminent.
She told the committee: “There are a lot of things that he would do in the context of escalation before he would get to nuclear weapons, and also that he would be likely to engage in some signalling beyond what he’s done thus far before doing so.”
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