No Winning Moves: Calculated Casualties and Damages of a Nuclear Attack on the United States by Russia for First and Second Strike Scenarios
Author(s)Montoya, Natalie G.
Kemp, R. Scott
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Simulations of nuclear attacks are a valuable assessment tool to analyze the capabilities of arsenals in order to inform policies and negotiations. Targeting strategies were developed for Russian first strike, Russian second strike with strategic warning, and Russian second strike without strategic warning scenarios utilizing the full Russian arsenal for the first strike and only the arsenal expected to survive a U.S. first strike with and without warning for the second strikes. The countervalue targets consisted of oil refineries and pipelines, shipping ports, and high voltage (HV) transformers in order to eliminate the U.S. supply of petroleum products and blackout the electrical grid. Beyond infrastructure damage, the blast fatalities and injuries were calculated using NUKEMAP, and the number of U.S. missile silos expected to survive an attack was calculated using a Monte Carlo simulation. The Russian first strike resulted in 49.73 million casualties and all oil refineries and major shipping ports and 2,809 HV transformers destroyed with 132—-225 surviving U.S. silos and 520 unused warheads. The Russian second strike with strategic warning resulted in 69.86 million casualties; all oil refineries, all major shipping ports, and 2,244 HV transformers destroyed with 783 or more unused warheads. The second strike without strategic warning resulted in 7.76 million casualties and 71 oil refineries, 27 major shipping ports, and 618 HV transformers destroyed. This study showed that deep arsenal reductions are possible while maintaining deterrence, the role of the U.S. ICBMs should be evaluated, and grid security and oil dependence should be addressed.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology