Nuclear war by accident

Eric Schlosser has a fascinating and frightening article [World War Three, by Mistake] in the New Yorker  which describes how close we came to accidental annihilation during the Cold War, and how close we are to it now.

When the US public see their military idiots prodding the bear by posturing around Europe and wingnuts like Senator John McCain describe Putin as “a thug, a bully, and a murderer” they might want to think about what will happen if things go wrong and they prod too much.

The photo below shows a Russian Voevoda R-36M2 missile being loaded into a silo somewhere in Russia. Each missile carries up to ten warheads and up to 40 penetration aids to overwhelm enemy defences. Russian missile technology is much superior to that of the US and their missiles have a greater throw weight than US missiles like the Minuteman.  That technical superiority is why the US has to buy rocket engines from Russia.

There are at least 46 R-36M2  complexes. Probably the US knows where most of  are and could destroy most of them in a first strike. I very much doubt if it knows where all of them are and could destroy them all. If even one or two of them got out of their silos the US would become a third world country with ten or twenty of its largest cities destroyed. Don’t worry though, US senators and military commanders would be safe underground when the warheads arrived. Nobody important would be harmed.

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This post describes what would happen if a 800 kiloton warhead detonated over Manhattan.

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1 Comment

Filed under Cold War, History

One response to “Nuclear war by accident

  1. Tim

    You say that the Russians (ex Soviets) make better rockets than the Americans, and also that is why RD-180s are bought from Russia to power American space launch vehicles. This isn’t really correct.

    The reason RD-180s are used on the Atlas V is because there was a large stock of them, they were cheaper than developing a similar engine, and the money would pay to keep a lot of skilled ex-Soviet rocket engineers busy on something that wasn’t building rockets for NK, Syria or whoever the bogey-man du jour was. Given that one of the programme aims was cheaper-to-launch point two alone was almost good enough to swing the decision, and point three was icing on the cake.

    Soviet rocketry was generally acknowledged as overall lacking in comparison to Cold War-era American tech, in terms of engineering finesse & reliability. A major reason why the Soviet engines had such throw weight was because their technology meant the rocket bodies were much heavier – mount a Soviet engine on a lighter American SV and you had free lift capability.

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