14 Comments

Back Ground, when Gen Haig was NATO Supreme Commander he decided the best role for his Engineer Atomic Demolition Munition Units would be a demonstration on the NATO side of the IGB if needed to show the Sovs we were ready to use nukes. FRG was brought into the planning side of things and established a minimum safe distance for device impact. This was for both personnel and building.

If the Russian war heads could be command detonated they follow same procedure. Find an area that meets certain stand off criteria. Use lowest yield device. Rig for command detonation. . . .

Problem solved back to work. (I admit I've got a lot of "IF"s).

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The phrase, "no one knows..." should accompany every statement and argument, including war games, when the subject is nuclear weapons. No one knows if they'll work; no one knows how much damage they will inflict (even if NUKEMAP is correct); no one knows the tactical, operational or strategic downstream consequences from a first use.

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UKR EOD have had a LOT of experience with "now what the heck is that?" as the glorious previously-red-army digs deeper and deeper in their quest for the ultimate boundary of "Of course it can still shoot/fly/go bang!" and from what I've seen from afar there are really quite a lot of UKR EOD folks. Hopefully all those years of helpfulness by NATO included supplying a few clickety-click meter gizmos for their go bags so as they initially approach, the new-guy will get to ask "Hey, boss, what's that clicking noise from this backpack?"

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Not specifically to point, but is anyone aware of discussions re: an international consensus (not by the impotent UN, but of a large group of the major players) for not just the usual "sanctions" but a truly devastating long term shunning and penalization of Russia should they carry something like this out? If something of this nature could be achieved, wouldn't it be a good idea to announce it in advance? As Dr. Strangelove said re: the Doomsday Device" "It doesn't do any good if you don't tell anyone about it!".

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дерьмо indeed ... if the warheads didn't break apart (or single-point detonate) and scatter it all over the field, the Russians just handed the Ukrainians two gift-boxed sets of fissile material.

Once they know what they have ... which may not be that long; at one time their nation had weapons like this ... how long will it take them to recycle the fissile material into a UKR warhead or two, a measure of nuclear deterrence which they will not be voluntarily giving up now?

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Ukraine operates several nuclear plants. I don't know the technical details, butI would guess they have no shortage of fissile materials as a consquence. Is that not the case?

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Enrichment levels vastly different. Uranium fuel is 3-5%, while warhead material is 90%, if you are talking U235. Enrichment is *hard*. Plutonium is a whole different issue, and the two warheads the Salamander just dropped in the Ukranians' pockets would be far more likely to be Pu.

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It's less likely/unlikely that what fissile matearials they have are sufficiently enriched to use in a bomb and/or they have the means to process what they have to enrich them (that infrastructure is not easy to hide, because it takes a fair amount of equipment to produce the amount of enriched material needed).

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Ordnance, not ordinance. Very thoughtful piece otherwise.

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author

Lawdy...my kingdom for an editor. Thanks.

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Why doesn’t Putin just test a few, underground, up north in the old Soviet testing ground? Helps him trust they work. Demonstrates he’s ready and confident in them. He’s already under NPT violator levels of sanctions. What’s to lose? The freakout in the West will be the same, but they can’t call it a war crime.

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I presume that would be a violation of the nuclear test ban treaty, and thus far Putin has been pretty fastidious about doing things “legally”, in large part I expect in order to maintain his international support.

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Oct 13, 2022·edited Oct 13, 2022

Last weapon test was at Semipalatinsk in 1989. It was "neglected" (and we have been seeing just what professional levels of Russian neglect look like) until around 2012, when world nuke scientists participated in a cleanup effort for a place that makes our "superfund" sites look like picnic areas. Also it is in Kazakhstan, which would not be amenable to a reopening. Also, the people who knew how to do it are dead or scattered to the four winds. You'd have to rebuild the entire underground test infrastructure from square one.

And <i>then</i>, you may find out you have several thousand highly radioactive paperweights, which would obviate your standing as a superpower should word leak out.

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Seems a no-risk solution to the problem of tossing a possibly non-operative nuke into Ukraine as a warning would be reduced by using a conventional warhead of the same weight and blowing it up at the same point of a nuclear airburst over their capital city. That gives them a "See what we could have done without the radioactive risk since don't the winds blow in Rusisa's direction from there?

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