How would the US respond to an act of Nuclear Terrorism?
May 24, 2007 3:50pm CST
Imagine that a bomb explodes in down town New York. It is a crude nuclear weapon with perhaps the yield of the Hiroshima bomb. In the moment of the explosion, perhaps 100,000 people die, by the end of the day, as many as half-a-million. The ensuing panic would be tremendous, as droves flee from the firestorm and radiated dust cloud. How would the United States respond to such an attack? I can imagine several possibilities, none of which would necessarily happen exactly as described, for the devil is in the details. But for the sake of argument, let?s say it came out of the clear blue sky, maybe tomorrow. I?ve constructed one possible scenario. It?s not hard to imagine that there?s some form of plan in place to deal with such an event. After all, the crucial time to respond would be within the first twenty-four hours. Within that first day we can rely on confusion and uncertainty to confound those who would argue restraint, and thwart other nuclear powers of their threats. We can imagine a phone call from the President to Vladimir Putin, saying something to the effect of, ?We?re responding with a tactical nuclear strike; none will be aimed at Russia.? To that Putin would have no choice but wait and watch, along with China, and our allies, who would receive similar calls. The United States (based upon it?s current policies, and past policies) would reserve the right to use nukes in order to completely redesign the world in which we live. The idea is simple: we?ve been hit by a nuke, the world has changed, as the recipients of this attack, we will dictate the direction of that change. This strategy would fall short of ?Armageddon? in that only a hand full of nukes would be used. These nukes would be directed (primarily) at military targets, as well as a couple of large cities. Iran would be hit hard by several nukes. Tehran would almost certainly be hit, as would military divisions throughout the country. The strategy would be to immobilize the Iranian military, cut off its head, and move to secure territory as quickly as possible. Why Iran? It might be easy to say that we had intelligence to indicate some responsibility; but the post-attack justification would be that we are going to rid the world of rogue states, and prevent any future nuclear attack from happening. With that in mind, we can also imagine the possibility of a nuclear strike on North Korea. The pre-emptive strike will be over-whelming, and the justification will be similar to that of Iran: eliminate a rogue nuclear state, and cut off pathways of potential nuclear terrorists. (We are talking about a world changing, in one violent blink-of-the-eye, after all). I think this is almost certainly a target, basically pre-selected in the case of an act of Nuclear Terrorism. (But whether or not we hit them along with Iran is not a certainty, but it seems some-what likely that the US would take the oppurtunity to eliminate North Korea before they had a chance to make any threats; it is a grim, but not out-of-the-question possibility). I doubt we?d nuke Pakistan; as such a move could trigger a nuclear war with India, a possibility that would complicate things even further. You can expect a full invasion into Pakistan, with or with out the government of Pakistan's consent. Naturally this scenario is fraught with a terrible aftermath. And the scenario itself is terrible. But does it sound likely? I?m not endorsing this as the way things should be, but as I stated earlier, doesn?t it seem likely that we have already selected our targets for a tactical nuclear response in the event of an attack here in the US? This might seem far-fetched, but my gut feeling is that the only thing scarier than Nuclear Terrorism, will be our response to it. We had a policy with the USSR during the Cold War, it was called ?Mutually Assured Destruction,? MAD, what do you suppose our policy is in the case of an act of Nuclear Terrorism?
2 people like this
• United States
26 May 07
Why would we have to nuke Iran or Pakistan or North Korea? None of the ability to strike us with nuclear missiles and for the purpose of cutting off supplies to terrorists a regular missile attack or ground forces would be enough to take nuclear production plants or potential silos/bases. " I doubt we?d nuke Pakistan; as such a move could trigger a nuclear war with India, a possibility that would complicate things even further. You can expect a full invasion into Pakistan, with or with out the government of Pakistan's consent. " Why? Pakistan and India hate each other, they've been looking for an excuse to nuke each other for a while...
24 May 07
I don't know what would happen as I don't think about these things in such detail. However it is obvious that any military would be prepared for anything like this that could happen and would already have their own plans decided. No military power is just going to react to something like this as if taken by suprise, they plan for every eventuality constantly. They consider every thing that could happen and definitely will already have plans in place for anything that might happen.