For the past two weeks, relations between Russia and the United States deteriorated sharply. The Kremlin announced the release of two Russian-American agreements on the destruction of weapons-grade plutonium and cooperation in the field of nuclear testing. Statements by the military and the nature of the messages in the media , many have created the perception that a direct military clash between Russia and the United States is possible. And inevitably, any talk about the prospects of such a collision — including nuclear war. Experts believethat speech yet not only hot, but even about the cold war, but still many remain troubling questions. Jellyfish were asked to answer them, military journalist Alexander Goltz.
Is there any reasonable way to evaluate the likelihood of nuclear war? Is it true that in the past three years, this probability sharply increased?
The risk of conflict with nuclear weapons is increasing as the deterioration of relations between the powers who have these weapons are. After the annexation of Crimea and covert military operations in Eastern Ukraine, Russia has entered a period of direct military confrontation with NATO (the Russian authorities officially deny the participation of regular army in the conflict in the Donbass — approx. "Medusa"). At the same time Moscow does not have the resources of the USSR: allies, industry is able to mass-produce weapons. Note also the demographic problem, ageing populations, from which it is impossible to form a vast army.
In these circumstances nuclear weapons is becoming a major foreign policy tool. However, to make it work, you need to make the West believe that the Kremlin, under certain circumstances, can click the "button". With this purpose the reanimation of the rhetoric around nuclear threat.
Vladimir Putin already declared readiness to bring missile troops on high alert at the time of the annexation of Crimea. It is possible that at the time of another crisis similar to the Ukrainian (and they very likely), he'll announce it. Will do something like this and the United States. And both sides will be afraid to miss the moment for launching missiles. In this situation, any technical failure (and it has happened more than once) can lead to disaster.
Between whom most likely nuclear confrontation between Russia and the United States? Between India and Pakistan? Between North Korea and the United States?
If we exclude the above scenario of escalation due to technical failure, which is likely in any confrontation between nuclear powers, the initiator of the conflict can only be a leader with "overvalued". That is, one for whom there is something more important than the survival of their own people.
In this case, it stops working, the doctrine of mutual deterrence: because this leader is not afraid that his country will suffer irreparable damage. Besides, it is required that such a leader would not be bound by the need for anyone to consult. These criteria were most suited to North Korean ruler Kim Jong-UN.
There is a list of countries with "confirmed" nuclear weapons. In fact, countries with an Arsenal more?
In accordance with the Treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT), five States — the US, Russia, Britain, France and China — have the legitimate right to have nuclear weapons. India, Pakistan and North Korea have acquired nuclear weapons in circumvention of the NPT, there's no denying I have it. Israel does not confirm nor deny that it has nuclear weapons.
In respect of a number of other States, above all Iran, there are only suspicions that they seek to acquire nuclear weapons. The international atomic energy Agency (IAEA) is to monitor the implementation of the NPT. However, the case when South Africa in the 1970-ies was able to build an atomic bomb — later the country voluntarily renounced nuclear weapons.
Employee in the shop radioisotope technology is conducting research in the hot cell post-irradiation examination at the Institute of reactor materials of Rosatom state Corporation in the Sverdlovsk region. 25 April 2016. Photo: Donat Sorokin / TASS / Scanpix / LETA
Saying that, if two countries have nuclear weapons, the chance that they use it less. Like this?
On the inevitability of mutually assured destruction in the event of a nuclear conflict is based the whole theory of nuclear deterrence. And it is not even about retaliation, and retaliatory. That is the country that attacked, it was vital to launch its missiles before enemy warheads will explode on its territory.
However, in the USSR were made and the possibility that as a result of sudden nuclear strike, the Americans will be able to destroy all Soviet command centers. In this case it was a system of "Perimeter" that is able to start surviving after the first strike missiles in automatic mode.
However, to argue that the possibility of launch on warning oncoming blow significantly reduces the likelihood of nuclear war, it is difficult. In a crisis situation, the decision to start should be made in a matter of seconds, while the warheads of the enemy did not destroy the rocket, located at the starting position. This significantly increases the possibility of error which will inevitably lead to a global catastrophe.
That is capable of the most modern warhead? It really will transform the city into a nuclear ash
The power of modern nuclear warheads of strategic delivery vehicles with ranges from 150 to 550 kilotons (the energy of the explosion with a capacity of 1 kiloton is equal to the energy of the explosion of thousands of tons of TNT). The power of the atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki was about 20 kilotons. By calculations of experts, in case of explosion of the warhead capacity of 550 kilotons will be almost totally destroyed all the buildings within a radius of 5 kilometers from the epicenter. The destruction of various degrees will occur within a radius of 30 kilometers.
The latest start Treaty, Russia and the United States can have 1550 warheads on strategic carriers (in the range of 5 thousand kilometers). The flight range of strategic missiles — 8-10 thousand kilometers, which provides for the United States and Russia are guaranteed to reach any point in the territory of another country. In addition, each of the parties has an unknown number of warheads on tactical nuclear weapons, which has a range of up to 500 kilometers.
Test of a hydrogen bomb in the Marshall Islands. March 1, 1954. Photo: Universal History Archive / Universal Images Group / REX / Vida Press
What is nuclear winter?
This climatic condition, which could theoretically come planet in case of nuclear war, this hypothesis explained the researchers in a publication in 1983. The basic idea is that a series of nuclear explosions and subsequent fires in the stratosphere will get hundreds of millions of tons of smoke and soot that would block sunlight on the Earth's surface. The lack of heat, in turn, will lead to a sharp decrease in temperature and death of many people, animals and plants. This is probably the most famous but not the only theory about the environmental consequences of nuclear war.
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