From The Gathering Storm Blog

Just what are we facing if a Hiroshima – aka: a ‘crude’ nuclear device about 10-12 kilotons – size nuke was detonated by Al Qaeda in a major city in the US.

“A 12.5 kiloton nuclear explosion in New York Harbor will produce casualties more than one order of magnitude greater than those inflicted at the World Trade Center. Blast and thermal effects would kill 52,000 people immediately. Another 238,000 would be exposed to direct radiation from the blast, and of these 44,000 would suffer radiation sickness and more than 10,000 of these would receive lethal doses. In addition to this direct radiation from the explosion, fallout would expose another million and a half people. For this group, the 24 hour cumulative dose would be high enough to kill another 200,000 and cause several hundred thousand cases of radiation sickness. In addition there would be many thousands of people with mechanical and thermal injuries. Casualties on this scale would immediately overwhelm medical facilities leading to a high mortality rate among those injured but not killed by the initial blast and thermal effects. Over 1000 hospital beds would be destroyed by blast, and 8700 beds would be in areas with radiation exposures high enough to cause radiation sickness.”

The most obvious delivery system that al Qaeda would use is what has come to be known as a ’suitcase bomb’. A nuclear ‘backpack’ or ‘suitcase’ bomb would appear to be in the one to ten kiloton range. According to Roland Watson, let’s see what kind of damage a 1 kiloton bomb would do.

“As the fireball expands rapidly to its maximum diameter of 460 feet, its centre rages at a temperature of 10,000,000° C for its brief lifetime. Note that temperatures in the WTC attacks were unlikely to have exceeded 5,000° C. Metallic objects up to 450 feet from ground zero of the initial flash will vaporise. Metallic objects up to 670 feet away will melt. It is needless to guess what happens to people caught out in the open at these ranges – they cease to exist in any meaningful sense of the word and join the raw material for the later fallout. At 1400 feet from ground zero, rubbers and plastics will ignite and melt whilst wood will char and burn. For victims out in the open, 3rd degree burns are inflicted up to 0.4 miles away, 2nd degree burns up to half a mile away and 1st degree burns at up to nearly a mile away. It is at the extremity of this range that we have the “open oven door effect” which needs no further explanation.

Meanwhile, those buildings which survived the melting effects of the heat radiation will be finished off by the high winds further into the city centre as winds approaching 670 mph will level or badly damage even steel concrete structures within 740 feet of the blast. No one inside this perimeter can hope to survive unless they are in good underground shelters. Where the wind speed drops to 380 mph at about 1050 feet, tall multi-storey buildings will be lucky to be left standing and survivors of the heat pulse will suffer potentially fatal lung injuries. As the speed drops to 225 mph at about 1650 feet, most dwelling houses will be wrecked and the streets blocked by debris. Flying fragments become the killer rather than sheer air pressure at these distances. What the initial radiation pulse did not ignite, the blast does by igniting new fires due to damaged power lines, gas mains and oil tanks. Asphyxiation can also occur at these ranges as much of the air is devoted to fuelling uncontrollable firestorms, which have no mercy on wooden housing.”

And what unlucky American city could be the target?

“Which is the unlucky American city? Certainly, it will be a city and it will be American as far as an Islamic fanatic with an extremely rare and potent weapon is concerned. New York? Los Angeles? San Francisco? New York has had a hard time of it with the two WTC attacks and the downing of flight 587 (yes, I believe it was a terrorist attack), so we may be forgiven for thinking the next attack will happen elsewhere. However, the Eastern seaboard is the favored route for bringing in smuggled items and terrorists will not want to spend critical time in long, hazardous journeys westwards. We know that some of the WTC terrorists were based and trained in Florida and that the alleged terrorist on trial just now was caught in the mid-southern state of Oklahoma (ominously he had undertaken Cessna flight training).

I suggest that coastal cities further south or even into the Gulf of Mexico may be at greater risk. Furthermore, a city with a flat topology may be favored above more contoured cities since hills will deflect and absorb the blast waves as was the case in Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks. Hiroshima was a flatter city than Nagasaki and paid for this with a greater death toll and destruction per square mile. Seeking to get the last iota of destructive power out of their devilish device, the terrorists would also favor southern cities because of the hotter conditions and better atmospheric conditions. In other words, clear, sunny skies are better “tinderbox” conditions as would that time of day since Bin Laden would want clear conditions for the infamous mushroom cloud to be recorded by the world’s media.”

There are two sites on the Net where you can simulate the effects of nuke attack on a US city. One is the Nuclear Weapon Effects Calculator which provides an interactive tool intended to give an idea of the devastating blast effects of ground-level, shallow subsurface, and low-altitude nuclear weapon detonations. You can choose a yield from 1 kiloton to 4 megatons on one of several major US cities. The other site is even more interesting. Plug in your zip code and see the effects of a nuke dropped on your neighborhood.

To see these dry stats in action, view the recently discovered video footage of the results of the Hiroshima blast. Then envision that in your town or city. Don’t you think it’s time we stop these wacko rogue states before this happens? Or will it take 100,000 American dead to finally wake up the appeasers and apologists – or would they just say we brought it upon ourselves.

Probably so. As the old saying goes, “You can’t argue with drunkards and fools.”

But what about the American response? The blog, Stop Asking Why, speculates.

“If the attack is nuclear, there will be massive pressure exerted by the public to respond with a nuclear attack. But, on whom? This enemy lives in several countries and does not wear a uniform or have clearly marked military installations for easy targeting. More problematic is the fact that they live among civilians. Americans must come to grips with the real possibility that we will be left with only two viable response options: staying our hands and responding basically by continuing what we’re doing already; or knowingly killing tens or even hundreds of thousands of civilians in order to respond to a nuclear attack with our own nuclear attack.”

Basically, the question is who do we attack? The terrorists detonated the bomb but who supplied them. Can we find out and retaliate against the supplier?

Maintaining total anonymity is difficult with a nuclear device. All radioisotopes possess a “signature” that exposes their point of origin. This signature makes it easier to trace the material and potentially point out who supplied it to the responsible terrorist group, making reprisals more likely.”

Is the government capable of such detective work? From an article in the New York Times in February of ’06.

“The Pentagon has formed a team of nuclear experts to analyze the fallout from a terrorist nuclear attack on American soil in an effort to identify the attackers, officials have said. The team, which can draw on hundreds of federal experts, uses such tools as robots that gather radioactive debris and sensitive gear to detect the origins of a device, whether a true atomic weapon or a so-called dirty bomb, that uses ordinary explosives to spew radioactivity. The objective is to determine quickly who exploded the device and where it came from, in part to clarify the options to strike back, the officials said. The government also hopes that terrorists will be less likely to use a nuclear device if they know that it can be traced.”

If we can trace the nuke back to its origins, we could retaliate against that country. But it will have consequences.

“The problem remains that we face an enemy who is motivated by death, not the desire to continue living. Instead of being deterred by a response that kills on such a massive scale, they will be encouraged. Instead of convincing their leaders of the futility of their actions in continuing the war with us (the goal in our use of atomic bombs against Japan in WWII), our nuclear response will entrench this enemy. It will help him recruit. It will solidify his support among fellow Muslims.”

And what about the social reaction? I’ve blogged on this before. Here’s what I think. After such an attack, citizens will sweep away any and all appeasing arguments for thoughtful sanity and calm and demand the government isolate any and all individuals that could pose a threat from more terrorist attacks on our soil. It won’t matter if they are while, black, red, brown or purple – only if are Muslim or support Muslims in this country.

A nuke detonation of American soil will result in an untold crisis for Muslims in America and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the nation that supplied the terrorists with the nuclear device. Of course if the device was either stolen or purchased from one of our ‘allies’ then this would further complicate our retaliation.

There really isn’t any pleasant solution. For us, it will be war on a terrifying level. For Muslims, their lives will be “short, nasty and brutish”.

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