“The world’s military powers have built tens of thousands of atomic bombs powerful enough to kill the world’s inhabitants several times over.” Caldicott, Helen. Nuclear Madness. New York: Bantam Books, 1980, p. 8.

NUCLEAR WAR FACT: “Larger nuclear weapons have much less destructive power per kiloton.”

This statement, again, reflects the lack of understanding of the effects of nuclear weapons in regard to weapon yield. The argument for the above statement is based on the following: The deaths at Hiroshima amounted to approximately 140,000 people, or approximately 53 percent of the population. The bomb was a thirteen-KT airburst, detonated at l,850 feet above ground. This resulted in a casualty rate of 10,800 people per kiloton. A good size nuclear war, by modern standards, would be in the range of ten thousand MT or ten million KT. Therefore, ten thousand MT would kill 108,000,000,000 people, which is, in fact, several times the world population. Large megaton weapons are not as efficient at producing casualties as smaller kiloton weapons. There is much less kill power per kiloton. Also, once a bomb kills someone, using a bigger blast to throw a dead body fifty yards farther does not make a person any more dead. The above-implied estimate of 10,800 casualties per kiloton cannot be used to estimate fatalities from a nuclear war because casualty rates cannot be figured by the theory that l00 percent of all nuclear missiles will be aimed at civilian targets. Such a strategy would be suicide for the enemy. Civilian targets pose no threat to the enemy, but missile silos and military bases do. Why would an enemy destroy millions of people when there are thousands of missile silos that have nuclear weapons aimed at the enemy, which do pose a direct threat? More realistic estimates, based on large attacks and populations that do not employ sheltering, approach 150,000,000 deaths per six million kilotons, or approximately twenty-five casualties per kiloton.12 If the Soviet Union and the United States agree on a reduction of strategic nuclear weapons of 90 percent or more, then the priorities of the targets change. In this case, cities create more of a major deterrent, as does the fact that there are not that many missile silos to target. Compounding the situation is the military status, which small countries attain by becoming equal in strength to the two superpowers.13


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