Issues: Nuclear Weapons, Waste & Energy

Issues: Nuclear Weapons, Waste & Energy

The Consequences of Nuclear Conflict between India and Pakistan
NRDC’s nuclear experts think about the unthinkable, using state-of-the-art nuclear war simulation software to assess the crisis in South Asia.

The months-long military standoff between India and Pakistan intensified several weeks ago when suspected Islamic militants killed more than 30 people at an Indian base in the disputed territory of Kashmir. As U.S. diplomatic pressure to avert war intensifies, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is going to India and Pakistan this week to discuss with his South Asian counterparts the results of a classified Pentagon study that concludes that a nuclear war between these countries could result in 12 million deaths.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) has conducted its own analysis of the consequences of nuclear war in South Asia. Prior to this most recent crisis we calculated two nuclear scenarios. The first assumes 10 Hiroshima-sized explosions with no fallout; the second assumes 24 nuclear explosions with significant radioactive fallout. Below is a discussion of the two scenarios in detail and an exploration of several additional issues regarding nuclear war in South Asia.
Indian and Pakistani Nuclear Forces

It is difficult to determine the actual size and composition of India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals, but NRDC estimates that both countries have a total of 50 to 75 weapons. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, we believe India has about 30 to 35 nuclear warheads, slightly fewer than Pakistan, which may have as many as 48.

Both countries have fission weapons, similar to the early designs developed by the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s. NRDC estimates their explosive yields are 5 to 25 kilotons (1 kiloton is equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT). By comparison, the yield of the weapon the United States exploded over Hiroshima was 15 kilotons, while the bomb exploded over Nagasaki was 21 kilotons. According to a recent NRDC discussion with a senior Pakistani military official, Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons are mounted on missiles. India’s nuclear weapons are reportedly gravity bombs deployed on fighter aircraft.

NRDC’s Nuclear Program initially developed the software used to calculate the consequences of a South Asian nuclear war to examine and analyze the U.S. nuclear war planning process. We combined Department of Energy and Department of Defense computer codes with meteorological and demographic data to model what would happen in various kinds of attacks using different types of weapons. Our June 2001 report, “The U.S. Nuclear War Plan: A Time for Change,” is available at http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/warplan/index.asp.
Scenario: 10 Bombs on 10 South Asian Cities

For our first scenario we used casualty data from the Hiroshima bomb to estimate what would happen if bombs exploded over 10 large South Asian cities: five in India and five in Pakistan. (The results were published in “The Risks and Consequences of Nuclear War in South Asia,” by NRDC physicist Matthew McKinzie and Princeton scientists Zia Mian, A. H. Nayyar and M. V. Ramana, a chapter in Smitu Kothari and Zia Mian (editors), “Out of the Nuclear Shadow” (Dehli: Lokayan and Rainbow Publishers, 2001).)

The 15-kiloton yield of the Hiroshima weapon is approximately the size of the weapons now in the Indian and Pakistani nuclear arsenals. The deaths and severe injuries experienced at Hiroshima were mainly a function of how far people were from ground zero. Other factors included whether people were in buildings or outdoors, the structural characteristics of the buildings themselves, and the age and health of the victims at the time of the attack. The closer to ground zero, the higher fatality rate. Further away there were fewer fatalities and larger numbers of injuries. The table below summarizes the first nuclear war scenario by superimposing the Hiroshima data onto five Indian and five Pakistan cities with densely concentrated populations.

Estimated nuclear casualties for attacks on 10 large Indian and Pakistani cities
City Name Total Population Within 5 Kilometers of Ground Zero Number of Persons Killed Number of Persons Severely Injured Number of Persons Slightly Injured
India
Bangalore 3,077,937 314,978 175,136 411,336
Bombay 3,143,284 477,713 228,648 476,633
Calcutta 3,520,344 357,202 198,218 466,336
Madras 3,252,628 364,291 196,226 448,948
New Delhi 1,638,744 176,518 94,231 217,853
Total India 14,632,937 1,690,702 892,459 2,021,106
Pakistan
Faisalabad 2,376,478 336,239 174,351 373,967
Islamabad 798,583 154,067 66,744 129,935
Karachi 1,962,458 239,643 126,810 283,290
Lahore 2,682,092 258,139 149,649 354,095
Rawalpindi 1,589,828 183,791 96,846 220,585
Total Pakistan 9,409,439 1,171,879 614,400 1,361,872
India and Pakistan
Total 24,042,376 2,862,581 1,506,859 3,382,978

As in the case of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in this scenario the 10 bombs over Indian and Pakistani cities would be exploded in the air, which maximized blast damage and fire but creates no fallout. On August 6, 1945, the United States exploded an untested uranium-235 gun-assembly bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy,” 1,900 feet above Hiroshima. The city was home to an estimated 350,000 people; about 140,000 died by the end of the year. Three days later, at 11:02 am, the United States exploded a plutonium implosion bomb nicknamed “Fat Man” 1,650 feet above Nagasaki. About 70,000 of the estimated 270,000 residents died by the end of the year.

Ten Hiroshima-size explosions over 10 major cities in India and Pakistan would kill as many as three to four times more people per bomb than in Japan because of the higher urban densities in Indian and Pakistani cities.
Scenario: 24 Ground Bursts

In January, NRDC calculated the consequences of a much more severe nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan. It first appeared as a sidebar in the January 14, 2002, issue of Newsweek (“A Face-Off with Nuclear Stakes”). This scenario calculated the consequences of 24 nuclear explosions detonated on the ground — unlike the Hiroshima airburst — resulting in significant amounts of lethal radioactive fallout.

Exploding a nuclear bomb above the ground does not produce fallout. For example, the United States detonated “Little Boy” weapon above Hiroshima at an altitude of 1,900 feet. At this height, the radioactive particles produced in the explosion were small and light enough to rise into the upper atmosphere, where they were carried by the prevailing winds. Days to weeks later, after the radioactive bomb debris became less “hot,” these tiny particles descended to earth as a measurable radioactive residue, but not at levels of contamination that would cause immediate radiation sickness or death.

Unfortunately, it is easier to fuse a nuclear weapon to detonate on impact than it is to detonate it in the air — and that means fallout. If the nuclear explosion takes place at or near the surface of the earth, the nuclear fireball would gouge out material and mix it with the radioactive bomb debris, producing heavier radioactive particles. These heavier particles would begin to drift back to earth within minutes or hours after the explosion, producing potentially lethal levels of nuclear fallout out to tens or hundreds of kilometers from the ground zero. The precise levels depend on the explosive yield of the weapon and the prevailing winds.

For the second scenario, we calculated the fallout patterns and casualties for a hypothetical nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan in which each country targeted major cities. We chose target cities throughout Pakistan and in northwestern India to take into account the limited range of Pakistani missiles or aircraft. The target cities, listed in the table below, include the capitals of Islamabad and New Dehli, and large cities, such as Karachi and Bombay. In this scenario, we assumed that a dozen, 25-kiloton warheads would be detonated as ground bursts in Pakistan and another dozen in India, producing substantial fallout.

The devastation that would result from fallout would exceed that of blast and fire. NRDC’s second scenario would produce far more horrific results than the first scenario because there would be more weapons, higher yields, and extensive fallout. In some large cities, we assumed more than one bomb would be used.

15 Indian and Pakistani cities attacked with 24 nuclear warheads
Country City City Population Number of
Attacking Bombs
Pakistan Islamabad (national capital) 100-250 thousand 1
Pakistan Karachi (provincial capital) > 5 million 3
Pakistan Lahore (provincial capital) 1-5 million 2
Pakistan Peshawar (provincial capital) 0.5-1 million 1
Pakistan Quetta (provincial capital) 250-500 thousand 1
Pakistan Faisalabad 1-5 million 2
Pakistan Hyderabad 0.5-1 million 1
Pakistan Rawalpindi 0.5-1 million 1
India New Dehli (national capital) 250-500 thousand 1
India Bombay (provincial capital) > 5 million 3
India Delhi (provincial capital) > 5 million 3
India Jaipur (provincial capital) 1-5 million 2
India Bhopal (provincial capital) 1-5 million 1
India Ahmadabad 1-5 million 1
India Pune 1-5 million 1

NRDC calculated that 22.1 million people in India and Pakistan would be exposed to lethal radiation doses of 600 rem or more in the first two days after the attack. Another 8 million people would receive a radiation dose of 100 to 600 rem, causing severe radiation sickness and potentially death, especially for the very young, old or infirm. NRDC calculates that as many as 30 million people would be threatened by the fallout from the attack, roughly divided between the two countries.

Besides fallout, blast and fire would cause substantial destruction within roughly a mile-and-a-half of the bomb craters. NRDC estimates that 8.1 million people live within this radius of destruction.

Most Indians (99 percent of the population) and Pakistanis (93 percent of the population) would survive the second scenario. Their respective military forces would be still be intact to continue and even escalate the conflict.
Thinking the Unthinkable

After India and Pakistan held nuclear tests in 1998, experts have debated whether their nuclear weapons contribute to stability in South Asia. Experts who argue that the nuclear standoff promotes stability have pointed to the U.S.-Soviet Union Cold War as an example of how deterrence ensures military restraint.

NRDC disagrees. There are major differences between the Cold War and the current South Asian crisis. Unlike the U.S.-Soviet experience, these two countries have a deep-seated hatred of one another and have fought three wars since both countries became independent. At least part of the current crisis may be seen as Hindu nationalism versus Muslim fundamentalism.

A second difference is India and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals are much smaller than those of the United States and Russia. The U.S. and Russian arsenals truly represent the capability to destroy each other’s society beyond recovery. While the two South Asia scenarios we have described produce unimaginable loss of life and destruction, they do not reach the level of “mutual assured destruction” that stood as the ultimate deterrent during the Cold War.

The two South Asian scenarios assume nuclear attacks against cities. During the early Cold War period this was the deterrent strategy of the United States and the Soviet Union. But as both countries introduced technological improvements into their arsenals, they pursued other strategies, targeting each other’s nuclear forces, conventional military forces, industry and leadership. India and Pakistan may include these types of targets in their current military planning. For example, attacking large dams with nuclear weapons could result in massive disruption, economic consequences and casualties. Concentrations of military forces and facilities may provide tempting targets as well.

Related NRDC Pages
The U.S. Nuclear War Plan: A Time for Change
Bush-Putin Treaty Will Prolong Nuclear Standoff

http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/southasia.asp

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China tested nukes for Pakistan, gave design

WASHINGTON: China tested nukes for Pakistan, gave design

The whistleblower isn’t a think-tank academic or an unnamed official speaking on background. Thomas Reed, described as a former U.S ”nuclear weaponeer” and a Secretary of the Air Force (1976-77) writes in the latest issue of Physics Today that China’s transfers to Pakistan included blueprints for the ultrasimple CHIC-4 design using highly enriched uranium, first tested by China in 1966. A Pakistani derivative of CHIC-4 apparently was tested in China on 26 May 1990, he adds.

Reed makes an even more stunning disclosure, saying Deng not only authorized proliferation to Pakistan, but also, “in time, to other third world countries.” The countries are not named. He also says that during the 1990s, China conducted underground hydronuclear experiments—though not full-scale device tests—for France at Lop Nur.

Reed’s disclosures are based on his knowledge of and insights into the visits to China by Dan Stillman, a top US nuclear expert who went there several times in the late 1980s at Beijing invitation, in part because the Chinese wanted to both show-off and convey to the US the progress they had made in nuclear weaponisation.

One of Stillman’s visit to the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear Research (SINR), writes Reed, ”also produced his first insight into the extensive hospitality extended to Pakistani nuclear scientists during that same late-1980s time period,” which would eventually lead to the joint China-Pak nuclear test.

Chinese nuclear proliferation to Pakistan, including the supply of hi-tech items like ring magnets in the early 1990s, has always been known to the non-proliferation community (which largely slept on the reports). But this is the first time it has been confirmed by such a senior official.

In the late 1980s, both the Reagan and the George Bush Sr administration repeatedly fudged the issue to certify that Pakistan had not gone nuclear despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

In his assessment of the Chinese nuclear program based on Stillman’s visits, Reed writes admiringly about Beijing’s successes, saying ”Over a period of 15 years, an intellectually talented China achieved parity with the West and pre-eminence over its Asian peers in the design of nuclear weapons and in understanding underground nuclear testing.”

“China now stands in the first rank of nuclear powers,” he concludes.

In trenchant observation, Reed writes, ”Any nuclear nation should consider its nuclear tests to be giant physics experiments. The Chinese weaponeers understood that well; other proliferators do not. Many states have considered their early nuclear shots to be political demonstrations or simple proof tests. In China, however, extremely sophisticated instrumentation was used on even the first nuclear test.”

Chronicling the progress of China’s nuclear weapons program, Reed writes: Atop a tower on 16 October 1964, China’s first nuclear device, 596, was successfully fired. US intelligence analysts were astonished by the lack of plutonium in the fallout debris and by the speed with which China had broken into the nuclear club, but that was only the beginning.

Eighteen months later, in the spring of 1966, China entered the thermonuclear world with the detonation of a boosted-fission, airdropped device that used lithium-6, a primary source of tritium when bombarded with neutrons. That test, their third, achieved a yield of 200–300 kilotons. By the end of the year, they made the leap to multistage technology with a large two-stage experiment that yielded only 122 kilotons, but it again displayed 6Li in the bomb debris.

The Chinese then closed the circle on 17 June 1967, unambiguously marching into the H-bomb club with a 3.3-megaton burst from an aircraft-delivered weapon. On 27 December 1968, the Chinese bid the Johnson administration farewell with an improved, airdropped 3-megaton thermonuclear device that for the first time used plutonium in the primary.

It is clear from the reactor-to-bomb progression times that by 1968 China had unequivocally entered the European nuclear cartel on a par with the U, says Reed. Furthermore, China had become a thermonuclear power. It had achieved the leap from the initial A-bomb test to a 3.3-megaton thermonuclear blast in a record-breaking 32 months. It had taken the US more than seven years to accomplish that feat.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/China_tested_nukes_for_Pakistan_gave_design/articleshow/3447395.cms

Pakistan Warns That US-India Nuclear Deal Could Lead To New Arms Race

Pakistan Warns That US-India Nuclear Deal Could Lead To New Arms Race

by Jeremy Page

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has warned the international community that India’s historic nuclear deal with the United States could accelerate a nuclear arms race between Delhi and Islamabad.0724 11

The warning was made in a letter addressed to more than 60 nations as the Indian government, having survived a no confidence vote on Tuesday, dispatched diplomats to clear the deal with international regulators.

India must still negotiate a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has a board meeting on August 1, and obtain the blessing of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG).

But Pakistan warned key members of the IAEA and the NSG in its letter that the safeguards agreement would impair non-proliferation efforts and “threatens to increase the chances of a nuclear arms race in the sub-continent”.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain, and have been de facto nuclear weapons states since conducting tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998.

A peace process begun in 2004 has stabilised relations, but has made little progress on the most divisive issue — the disputed region of Kashmir – and the two sides remain deeply distrustful of each other..

Mohammad Sadiq, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, confirmed the contents of the letter, which he said was distributed to IAEA members in Vienna, but not released to the media.

“There are a number of questions about the deal, not only for Pakistan, but for many other countries,” he told The Times.

“There should be a model agreement that could be signed with any country that meets the criteria. It should not be country-specific.”

The US Congress must also approve the deal, which lifts a 34-year ban on selling US nuclear fuel and technology to India even though Delhi has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Indian and US officials say that all three steps could be completed in the next few months – although the White House has said that it could be pushed to get Congressional approval before President Bush steps down.

Meanwhile, the Indian government announced that it had sent its top diplomats to Germany, which holds the rotating chair of the NSG, and to Ireland, which has objections to the nuclear deal.

Ireland is one of the strongest proponents of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was proposed by Frank Aiken, Irish Minister for External Affairs, in 1958.

The Nuclear Suppliers’ Group – founded after India tested its first nuclear device in 1974 – is an informal grouping of 45 nuclear-exporting countries designed to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and dual-use materials.

Its guidelines ban the export of nuclear fuel and technology to countries other than the five official “nuclear weapons states” – the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China – that do not have a specific agreement with the IAEA safeguarding their nuclear facilities.

India has submitted a draft safeguards agreement to the IAEA, under which it would separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities and allow IAEA inspections of the former.

But Pakistan said in its letter that the draft agreement had not listed the exact sites that would be safeguarded.

“What is the purposed of the Agreement if the facilities to be safeguarded are not known?” it asked.

Pakistan is not a member of the NSG, but it does sit on the current 35-member board of the IAEA – a United Nations agency – and is expected to vote against India’s draft safeguards agreement at the August 1 meeting.

A two thirds majority is required to approve the agreement.

Among Pakistan’s other objections are the date of the board meeting, which comes less than the required 45 days after a country starts circulating its draft.

The letter said that more time was needed because the agreement “is likely to set a precedent for other states which are not members of the NPT and have military nuclear programmes”.