Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kadima: Atom Bombs are Wimpy.

"An atomic bomb, of the type being developed by Iran, can't destroy Israel, period. It causes death in a 500 meter radius, but can't destroy Israel," that was the calming message given to Ynet Tuesday by Knesset Member Prof Isaac Ben-Israel.

Whenever "calming" statements are issued from Olmert's party, I get worried. Especially when the statements are nonsense.
Asked what the damage of a nuclear attack would be, Ben-Israel said, "Does a bomb destroy a country? Of course not. An atomic bomb of this type – a 10 – 20 kiloton bomb, such as the type that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causes death in the 500 to 1000 meter radius around the fall zone if it fell on Tel Aviv. That may sound like a big relief, but it isn't.

"In Tel Aviv, 20 to 30,000 people live in a 500 meter radius, a number equivalent to the total count of casualties in all of Israel's wars until today. And all of this in one bomb. In any case, just like earthquakes we've seen, it doesn't destroy a state in which seven million people live." YNET
Only 500-1000 meters? What's Olmert been giving his party people to smoke?

The USA's Homeland Security "National Terror Alert" center has the following to say about the fallout from a nuclear weapon (I'm ignoring those killed immediately by the bomb blast).
1 Megaton Surface Blast: Fallout
One of the effects of nuclear weapons detonated on or near the earth’s surface is the resulting radioactive fallout. Immediately after the detonation, a great deal of earth and debris, made radioactive by the blast, is carried high into the atmosphere, forming a mushroom cloud. The material drifts downwind and gradually falls back to earth, contaminating thousands of square miles. This page describes the fallout pattern over a seven-day period.

Wind speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: due east
Time frame: 7 days

3,000 Rem*
Distance: 30 miles
Much more than a lethal dose of radiation. Death can occur within hours of exposure. About 10 years will need to pass before levels of radioactivity in this area drop low enough to be considered safe, by U.S. peacetime standards.

900 Rem
Distance: 90 miles
A lethal dose of radiation. Death occurs from two to fourteen days.
On the "safe" side, I made a 70 mile radius circle around Tel Aviv...where if G-d forbid an atom bomb exploded, the fallout would reach the vast majority of Israel's population.

Aren't you glad the Olmert's on his way to give away Jerusalem in Annapolis? He probably has the same experts telling him there will be peace if he splits Jerusalem...the same way a nuclear bomb doesn't threaten Israel's existence.

Update: While the stats mentioned above are for the fallout from a 1 megaton nuclear device, the Kadima guy was talking about a smaller 10-20 kiloton one. Regardless, from browsing the web, it seems radiation fallout level is still rather deadly for those in a 70 mile radius...it just may take longer to die of radiation poisoning. (See Lurker's link here as well)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


David Fink said...

Hey, you didn't quote this part of the page:
"The fission bomb detonated over Hiroshima had an explosive blast equivalent to 12,500 tons of TNT. A 1 megaton hydrogen bomb, hypothetically detonated on the earth’s surface, has about 80 times the blast power of that 1945 explosion."
So while I still think the guy from Kadima has been smoking something, the description of damage that you read is 80 times what an Iranian bomb would do.

Lurker said...

This article contains a pretty good description of what an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel would be like.

Fern said...

This may be "discovering America" but a 10-20 kiloton bomb is tiny compared to a megaton bomb.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Fern: Touche


Shmilda said...

And unlike Saddam Hussein, Iran doesn't seem the type to be deterred by the Arab deaths which would inevitably result.

Michael said...

Even a 10 to 20 kiloton device would devastate Israel.

A Hiroshima bomb in Tel Aviv would easily kill 120 to 150,000 people, cause fallout damage, fires, smoke damage, etc for miles around.

As with Hiroshima, an additional 100 to 150,000 people could be expected to die in the weeks and months following. A country of only 7 million, with limited land area, simply can't cope with 300,000 dead and dying in a few months. Hospital and morgues would be swamped; epidemic would result.

The electromagnetic pulse would wipe out the high-tech industry, and pretty much all of Israel's economy with it. Cars, ATM cards, cell phones, computers, CD players, even microwave ovens, all would malfunction. The phone system, including first response system for MDA, would fail.

And all of that is what the Muslim world wants. It doesn't matter to them that such a strike would cause massive damage in Jordan, too, or that Israel's retaliation would devastate the attacker; all they care about is wiping out Israel.

Karl Newman said...

A few issues here.

First, the data above is for a surface burst. Surface bursts would be used against hardened targets, not soft targets like cities. If the Iranians had the accuracy to hit hardened targets like IDF HQ, then they would want to use a surface burst. But they don't have that kind of accuracy. They would go for civilian casualties and an air burst would kill more people with less fallout.

Second, fallout patterns would vary depending on several conditions, including wind direction, wind speed, terrain, etc. A strike on Tel Aviv would not spread fallout in a circle, the pattern would look more like a flame, with the wick as the target and the blue part as the area of highest density. A strike on Tel Aviv may dump fallout on Jerusalem and points in between while not dumping anything on Netanya or Ashdod.

Third, fallout can be dealt with to an extent. People in the high density areas would become sick and some would die. But other areas in the fallout pattern would not be as bad. Bad, but not as bad. Properly prepared, the Israeli government should be able to evacuate those areas and decontaminate people using mobile facilities designed for the purpose or even showers located in hotels, gyms, public swimming areas and the like. Most decon is a matter of just washing with soap and water while moving from a contaminated to uncontaminated side.

Fourth, there's the assumption that Iran can even hit Israel. There's a big 'if' involved here.

From the sound of it, Iran is building facilities to process weapon-grade uranium. That means a gun-type device, which makes sense. Gun-type devices are so simple that when the first one was built by the Manhattan Project, they didn't even bother to test it. The first one ever to be initiated was over Hiroshima. Problem is, gun-types are bulky, the Iranians would have fun trying to mount one on what they have for missiles. The US was able to drop just one at a time from a B-29. So how will Iran deliver a gun-type device? Cargo plane? Not with Israel's air defenses.

Plutonium is easier to obtain, but using that requires an implosion device. Implosion devices are very difficult to design and build. They have to be built to very tight specs, failure to do so will either cause the device to fizzle or to fail altogether. It took some of the best physicists and engineers in the world working non-stop and with the weight of American industry behind them to do that in about half a decade. The Iranians don't have those kind of resources. And if they do manage to build a successful implosion device, they then have to miniaturize it to where it will fit on top of a missile.

Fifth (and finally), there's the issue of the Mullahs. Ahmadinejad may be crazy enough to want to nuke Israel, but the Mullahs are a different matter. They may be referred to as the 'Mad Mullahs,' but they aren't stupid. Corrupt, but not stupid. They live in opulence, funded by the Iranian taxpayers. Off-shore bank accounts and all. For them, a nuclear capability is a way of providing themselves with a protective umbrella while they continue with spreading Islamic terrorism. Ahmadinejad works for the Mullahs and they can remove him.

None of this is to say that a nuclear strike on Israel would not cause immense devastation and large loss of life, nor does it say that the Iranians will not attempt a nuclear strike on Israel. But things are not as dire as they might seem. Besides, I believe Bush will deal with this problem before January, 2009. If I were an Israeli, I'd be more concerned about Iranian missile strikes using conventional and possibly chemical warheads, fired in retaliation for American strikes on Iran. Get your gas masks ready, ensure you have the proper filters for them, make sure you know how to use them and have some atropine injectors ready if you can get them.

Keep your powder dry, but keep living life.

P.S. Even though it's from Wikipedia, this is a pretty good article on fallout.


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